Pilot’s swift action averts tragedy on Namibian coast

Niël Terblanché

A potential aviation tragedy was skilfully avoided on Monday morning when an experienced pilot, flying a light aircraft along the Namibian coast, executed an emergency landing on the B2 Road between Swakopmund and Langstrand.

The incident, which could have ended in disaster, saw all passengers emerge unscathed thanks to the pilot’s quick reflexes and expertise.

The Cessna 210, with five people on board, was ascending to its cruising altitude after departing from Swakopmund Aerodrome when it encountered sudden engine trouble.

Hafeni Mweshixwa, a senior aircraft accident investigator at the Directorate of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigations, reported that the pilot immediately declared an emergency.

Despite being scheduled for a two-hour scenic flight, the pilot had to find a safe spot for an emergency landing swiftly.

Demonstrating remarkable composure and skill, the pilot managed to find an opening in the heavy traffic on the B2 Road and safely landed the aircraft without causing any injuries to the passengers or damage to the aircraft.

According to Mweshixwa, initial assessments suggest that fuel starvation, a situation where the engine stops running due to a failure in the fuel system, was the likely cause of the engine trouble.

However, a comprehensive investigation by the Directorate of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigations will be conducted to confirm the exact cause.

This incident mirrors a similar occurrence in November 2017, where another Cessna 210 was forced to land at Langstrand due to suspected fuel starvation.

In this instance, the pilot also had to react swiftly to avoid catastrophe, as fuel starvation leaves very little time to locate a suitable landing zone.

The incident in 2017 occurred when the aircraft, returning from a sunset flight, suddenly lost engine power over dry land, necessitating immediate emergency measures.

In that case, neither the tourists on board nor the pilot sustained any injuries.

At the time the aircraft owner reported that while the incident was frightening for everyone involved, all passengers and the pilot emerged from the plane unharmed.

The owners of the aircraft involved in the latest incident, moved the Cessna 210 from the side of the B2 Road to a safer spot next to a turnoff to Long Beach until it can be relocated to the Swakopmund Aerodrome

Both events add to the lore of the notorious Skeleton Coast, named for the numerous ship and aeroplane wrecks scattered in the unforgiving Namib Desert along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

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