Cirrus "Near-Ditch" Ferry Pilot Tells His Story
"I Just Did My Job"
It had all the makings of an Ernest K. Gann plot or Steven Spielberg thriller: a lone pilot, over a cold, forbidding sea, defying the odds and a mysterious fuel leak, and bringing his ship home on fumes, the engine stopping on the rollout. If only it were true. "There was no emergency. I just did my job," Allen Walls, of Armstrong, B.C., Canada, told AVweb in an exclusive interview. Walls is co-owner of Ice Dragons International and one of the ferry contractors used by Cirrus dealers to deliver planes to far-flung places. You may recall the breathless media accounts on New Year's Eve (including ours) when the brand-new Cirrus SR22 he was flying to the Netherlands developed a fuel leak over the North Atlantic between Labrador and Ireland. "It was a faulty fuel cap. That's all it was," said Walls. Walls said it's not uncommon for ferry pilots to cope with en route problems such as this, particularly on new aircraft. "We're essentially breaking them in for the customers," said Walls, who has had his share of mishaps as a ferry pilot, including a crash landing in Hawaii after an engine failed on a twin he was ferrying to Australia. In another case, the bottom fuel tank outlet in a plane he was flying became blocked when he was 80 miles from shore. He says he got it to the airport by keeping the aircraft banked in a series of oblong 360-degree turns so fuel would feed through the upper outlet on the tank. These and other incidents just go with the territory, Walls insists.