Three Bad Landings in One Day
A passenger taking her first ride in a 1959 Piper TriPacer jumped from the cockpit as it bounced down the runway during the third emergency landing of the day, the Modesto (Calif.) Bee reported on Monday. Witnesses told the Bee that pilot William Supan, 57, landed at Modesto Airport on Saturday afternoon with smoke curling from beneath the cowling, and fire trucks responded. Supan reportedly went to Wal-Mart to buy a clamp, installed it on the airplane, and took off. Smoke now poured from the cowling, and he immediately came around and landed again. The fire trucks returned, Supan replaced part of the exhaust hose, and launched yet again. When he landed for the third time, hard, the wings were wobbling, smoke trailed from the bouncing fuselage, and passenger Jinhua Lin, 43, alarmed by the intensity of heat radiating through the floorboards, jumped. The airplane ran off the runway, the pilot escaped, the fuselage caught fire, and the flames were put out by firefighters.
Lin suffered a broken leg and scrapes and bruises, while Supan was treated for smoke inhalation. The TriPacer's fabric skin and interior were charred and ruined. But airport manager Bill Latham told the Bee that all in all, it was a good day. Gesturing toward the houses west of the airport, he said, "When you think of what might have been, we were all very lucky."