• Four Americans – two men and two women – survived a plane crash at Tobías Bolaños International Airport in San José, Costa Rica, on Monday afternoon
  • Alvaro Chavarría was forced into an emergency crash landing after the twin-engine Seneca plane suffered mechanical problems
  • The pilot, who has seven years of experience, was traveling to Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, when the landing gear malfunctioned
  • Chavarría alerted the control tower of the emergency at 1:50pm local time and landed the small aircraft at 2pm
  • The passengers and the pilots did not suffer any serious injuries
  • The American tourists were later bused to Juan Santamaría International Airport where they boarded their return flight to Houston  


Four American tourists survived a crash landing in Costa Rica on Monday after their twin-engine plane suffered an in-flight emergency. Two local pilots also walked away from the incident. 

Alvaro Chavarría, who was flying the plane, said the Seneca’s landing gear suffered mechanical problems during the flight to Juan Santamaría International Airport in the city of Alajuela where the passengers were scheduled to board a connecting flight to Houston.

The 49-year-old airman contacted the control tower at Tobías Bolaños International Airport in San José at 1:50pm and requested permission for an emergency landing.

Chavarría, who has seven years of flight experience with commercial airlines, said he made several 360-degree flyovers to lighten the fuel load and lessen the impact. 

‘The passengers were super calm at all times. They were not nervous. They were grateful and very calm,’ Chavarría said, according to Costa Rican outlet CR Hoy.

‘If I had been a passenger, maybe I would have been nervous. However, I asked them how they were and they responded that they felt comfortable with what I was doing and with my explanation.’

Bystanders on the ground recorded the moment the plane landed hard on a grass surface at the end of the landing strip.

The aircraft subsequently skidded across the runway on its belly and came to a full stop after making a U-turn.

The passengers, two men and two women, opened the plane’s door open and ran towards the side of the airfield, followed by Chavarría and his co-pilot.

An emergency response unit immediately foamed the runway to prevent the plane from going up in flames.

None of the passengers or pilots suffered any injuries. One of the female passengers did vomit when Chavarría was forced to turn the plane in the sky before descending.

The passengers declined to be transported to a medical facility and were bused on a private coach to Juan Santamaría International Airport where they boarded their return flight home to Houston.