A veteran pilot helped guide a young student on her third solo to a safe emergency landing after the nosegear fell off her Diamond Star on takeoff from an airport in Pontiac, Michigan, Wednesday. Chris Yates, the former director of aviation for SpaceX, saw the wheel fall off and quickly got on the radio to help 21-year-old Taylor Hash manage the problem in a radio recording quoted by WXYZ News, which also played a video of the incident. “Taylor this is Chris, my daughter’s name is Taylor and I taught her to fly! We’re gonna be just fine kiddo.”
After flying the pattern, Hash lined up on final and Yates talked her through the approach and landing. “When you touch down, I just want that stick all the way back. You’re gonna hold that stick back like you don’t want that nose to touch,” he said. Hash held the nose off as directed until she ran out of airspeed. The plane pitched onto its nose but did not flip. “The nose is gonna come down, you’re okay, you’re okay. Talk to me. Thatta girl, proud of you,” Yates coached.
Hash said she’s not sure if it would have turned out so well without Yates’s help. “It’s hard to think about what could have happened. The plane could’ve ended up in the grass, in the dirt, flipped over,” she told WXYZ News. Yates said it was an emotional experience for him to help out the namesake of his own daughter in those circumstances, but he also had a frank assessment of the student pilot’s skills. “Somebody with 6 hours solo and 57 total hours flight time doesn’t handle the plane like that,” said Yates. “I hope all the airlines are paying attention to this kid right now.”