The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Plane goes down near Texico

 

November 7, 2018

Courtesy photo: David Nichols

A tricky emergency landing Monday night in the westbound lane of Texico's Wheeler Street left its occupants with minor injuries apart from soreness, but the aircraft itself is likely a loss.

TEXICO — It was a downed airplane rather than a locomotive that held up traffic Monday night at the train tracks in Texico, the site of an emergency landing in which none of the occupants were seriously injured.

"We are good, just sore!" Cammy Reed wrote in a message Tuesday to The News. "God took care of us and I am grateful."

Reed and her husband Jeff, both 54, were passengers on the flight piloted by their son, who managed a landing that astounded officials.

"We are absolutely fortunate that it was not a disaster," said Texico Police Chief Doug Bowman, who told The News he couldn't recall a comparable incident there in his lifetime.

Nikita Pyeatte said she didn't think much of it when she saw the propeller airplane flying low near her place of work by the intersection of Wheeler and State streets. Crop dusters are a common enough sight there, she told The News, but she realized something was different when she looked up again and saw first responders around a plane laying across the town's central thoroughfare near rush hour, just a few feet west of the train tracks.

"Whatever the mechanical issues were, it was a tremendous job landing the aircraft," said Carlos Arias, the agent for the airplane's owner. "I probably would have killed everybody on board because I don't see how, of all the things that were in the way, how he managed to land the aircraft safely. As much stuff as there is to bump into, and he managed to miss it all and land on the street."

Arias spoke of the plane's 25-year old pilot Keaton Reed, who was almost home to Clovis on a return trip from Austin with his parents and their dog. It's a trip of some three hours, Arias said, one that the Piper Comanche PA-24-250 can easily make in a single shot, normally.

According to a news release Monday night from Curry County Sheriff Wesley Waller, Keaton Reed had "reported the plane began experiencing fuel delivery problems, causing a loss of power. The plane glided to the ground and landed, without the use of landing gear..."

Details of what went wrong are still being sorted in a post-crash investigation, said Arias, who noted the plane had been in good condition in spite of its age.

"It is a '58 or '59, a late '50s model airplane," he told The News. "Just a really nice little airplane. It would be equivalent to a car with 20,000 miles on it."

Bowman declined to further detail the crash, which will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, but said it was a Curry County deputy first on scene while returning from work Monday evening.

Waller said officials received the report around 5 p.m. and that Cammy Reed was treated briefly at Plains Regional Medical Center while her husband and son were examined and released at the scene. There were no other injuries, including the canine passenger, a golden lab.

That's more than was said for the aircraft itself, which Arias considered likely to be "a total loss."

Both Arias and Cammy Reed commended the pilot on a well-executed landing in challenging circumstances.

"As pilots, we all train for that incident. You hope it never happens, and you often wonder if you're going to have the fortitude to remain calm and do what needs to be done, which is a testament to his piloting, landing that aircraft," Arias said. "We can sit here on the ground and quarterback that all we like, but when you're descending, you have 30 seconds to a minute to make life-and-death decisions and remain calm about it."

 

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