During a flight July 20 from Salisbury, Md. en route to the Hanover County Municipal Airport, a Mechanicsville pilot said he knew something was not right with his single-engine plane.
First, pilot Paul Boulden, 54, of Mechanicsville, said he heard “mechanical noises” and the engine started to slow down.
A pilot for 13 years, Boulden has undergone substantial flight training and part of that training requires pilots to know how to handle emergency situations like this one.
“[I] train for these types of emergencies all the time,” he said. “This was just the first time it actually happened.”
Pilots often practice engine failures while they are in flight school working toward obtaining a pilot’s license.
The plane’s engine was failing, so Boulden and his three passengers headed for a landing at Tappahannock-Essex County Airport, which Potomac Air Traffic Control indicated was only four miles away when oil sprayed from the engine and covered the windshield, impairing his ability to see the runway.
At that point, Boulden decided he needed to “pull for the parachute,” he said.
But Boulden said he never worried that he and his three passengers wouldn’t make it back to the ground because of his previous training.
The series of events lasted four minutes from start to finish and all four passengers floated to the ground safely.
“I was never in doubt of sitting the plane down, I was just trying to figure out the best way to safely land, ” Boulden said.
In a statement, State Police Sgt. Thomas Molnar said his department is continuing its investigation into the crash with help from Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.