A test flight as part of an annual inspection led to an emergency landing at Bridgeport Municipal Airport around 11 a.m. Tuesday
Houston-area pilot Randy Martin, the plane’s only occupant, landed the Piper Navajo aircraft smoothly. He was not injured.
Martin said he’d brought the plane to Barham Aviation Inc. (located at the airport) for the inspection two weeks ago and was in the air when he noticed a gear light was not on.
He made contact with Bob Barham and the two tried various procedures to alleviate the problem before notifying emergency personnel. Martin circled for about 20 minutes until emergency personnel arrived at the airport. He then made his descend onto the runway.
All electrical connections were shut off, forcing the pilot to rely on the plane to roll to a stop.
“From the way he landed the plane, I would say he is a very good pilot,” Bridgeport Police Chief Randy Singleton said. “He brought the airplane in slowly and landed it gently on the runway.”
The plane was then towed back to Barham Aviation for further inspection.
“It had locked up,” Barham said. “It could be a microswitch that’s off or a loose wire. We’ll take a look at it and try to figure it out.”
Martin, who has been flying since 1972, praised local first responders for their quick reaction.
“They’re great,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better turn out.”
Bridgeport fire and police departments, State Troopers and Wise County EMS responded.
“These kinds of things make you wonder how many chances you get in life,” Martin said. “I know I’ve gone through a few of them. This one wasn’t as serious … but it could’ve been.”