By Frank Gale

Chris Grimes, a passenger on a Provincial Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Stephenville airport today that landed without its front wheels down, had strong praise for the pilots. 

“I’ve had harder landings with all the wheels down,” the Harbour Grace man said in the terminal building in Stephenville.

He said it’s obvious the flight crew, including the attendants, were all well trained as they done a great job.

Grimes was one of 50 passengers who were on the plane that was coming from Labrador and bound for Deer Lake airport. There was no report of any injuries with all the passengers taken to the airport in taxis.

Three Iron Ore of Canada workers who were on the plane had similar praise for the plane’s crew, who said they were first notified of a problem after trying to land in Deer Lake.

Kyle Glied of Cupids said he seen the rear landing gear drop when they were descending to Deer Lake airport but then seen it go back up and the plane rise again.

He said the passengers were told of an issue with the landing gear and that while circling in the air near Deer Lake the pilot was bouncing the plane trying to get the wheels to drop but to no avail.

His co-worker, Brad Budgell of Lewisporte, estimated they circled that airport for about an hour before a decision was made to head to Stephenville for an emergency landing due to the longer runway.

“They (flight attendants) gave us all the instructions for an emergency landing, from putting our heads forward and bracing ourselves right down to running away from the plane if need be,” he said.

He and Glied gave the pilot credit for doing an awesome job in putting the plane down.

“It was really a quiet landing. We touched down like a feather. We didn’t know the front of the plane was nose down on the runway until we were getting out but the plane did feel tilted forward,” Budgell said.

Their other co-worker Jordan Lidster of Bay Roberts said it was pretty crazy and that he was pretty worried for a while as he didn’t know what to expect after hearing of the emergency landing.

A spokesperson for Stephenville airport said the emergency landing took place at 12:30 p.m. today.

Budgell said passengers were being transported from Stephenville to Deer Lake by bus.