CHICAGO (CBS) — Tense moments before a plane without a functioning nose landing gear managed to make a safe emergency landing at Executive Airport in Wheeling on Wednesday.
Shortly after takeoff, veteran pilot Vartan Seferian suspected something was wrong with his plane’s landing gear after hearing a loud noise. Seferain, who has been flying for 20 years, was on his way to Janesville, Wis., giving his friend, Howard Norber, a lift to pick up his buddy’s plane.
About 10 miles outside the airport, Seferian decided he needed to turn back. However, with a plane full of fuel, landing immediately would raise the risk of an explosion. So, he spent about two hours circling before coming in for a landing.
“I was thinking of my kids, but I didn’t feel as emotional [in the air] as I do now,” said Seferain, as he choked back tears. “I had to land and I wanted to see my kids again. That was the number one thing on my mind.”
The airport brought in another pilot to provide assurances and guidance from the ground.
“The tower was incredible and kept me calm,” Seferian said. “They helped us land safely.”
As the plane slowed down on the runway, the nose dipped onto the pavement and slid to a stop.
Emergency crews immediately responded.
“We just had to focus on what we were going to do and how to land it,” Seferian said.
He was in an plane accident seven years ago in Lansing, Mich., flying another aircraft when engine trouble forced an emergency landing.
He plans to fly again.