A light aircraft crashed just before landing at the Piarco International Airport and two people were hospitalised following the daring crash-landing in farmlands on the perimeter of the airport.
Guardian Media understands that the incident occurred around 9.48 am yesterday, when a flight training aircraft, registration number 9YTJU, was heading towards the airport for a scheduled landing at runway 10. However, the aircraft, a Diamond DA40 Light four-seater model, reportedly experienced mechanical difficulties and the pilot had to execute a forced landing.
The plane crash-landed on the bank of the Oropune River, approximately 2,000 feet from the airport, nearest to the CAL Airlines hangar.
Guardian Media was told that flight instructor Randell James, of Aerial World Services Ltd, was conducting a training flight with female student Marelle Dillon, when they were forced to make the emergency landing.
The two were both taken to the Arima Medical Facility for treatment. James was said to have suffered minor injuries to his shoulder and chest while Dillon suffered injuries to her collar bone. The injuries were not life threatening.
Farmer and eyewitness Hemraj Lackhan shared his version of the events with a media crew hours after the incident.
He said, “I see this plane coming towards me and I see it coming down to me and it keeps coming to me on the tractor, so I stopped the tractor and I started waving my hands towards the plane because I got so frightened. So I decided to jump off the tractor and seek cover, as the plane flew over the tractor, I saw the plane land and started to tumble in the river and landed on the bank of the river.”
Hemraj added, “When I turned around my tractor and rushed to the scene, they were outside already. The young lady was lying on the ground and the man was on his phone making calls, he told us that he had mechanical problems.”
He added that the two were frightened after the crash and he too was happy that they were alive.
“I thought I was dead honestly when I saw the plane coming honestly,” Hemraj exclaimed.
The Airport Authority of T&T, in a media release, also confirmed the incident.
The authority noted that other flights were not impacted by the event and operations continued as normal at the Piarco Airport.