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Couple Forced To Make Emergency Landing After Door Flies Open And Jams Controls

Couple Forced To Make Emergency Landing After Door Flies Open And Jams Controls

A couple were forced to make an emergency landing after their plane's flight controls jammed.

Steve Le Van and his wife were on their way back from Charlton Park, in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, when the baggage hatch on their Mooney M20K swung open.

The hatch then 'caught the leading edge of the horizontal stabiliser', affecting the plane's controls. Fortunately, Mr Le Van was able to steer the aircraft down to a safe landing in an empty field.

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A video filmed from the cockpit has been shared on Mr Le Van's YouTube channel, showing the entire terrifying incident unfold.

Following the emergency landing, Mr Le Van explained what had gone wrong, saying he had no other option but to 'declare a Mayday'.

He said: "The loose metal managed to wedge itself between the elevator fork and the main surface restricting free movement of flight controls.

"After the initial impact of the door hitting you can see the AC pitched itself into a negative attitude, we were only at 2100ft on the QNH & started to roll slightly to the right, after a second I regained partial control (accepted 300ftpm level decent) to then have a uncontrolled full deflection of the ailerons both right and left.

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"With direct line of sight of the damage from the P1 seat and the old RAF grass strip at Membury visual I did not hesitate to declare a Mayday with Brize Radar and proceeded to line up for R13 (770m)."

The couple were forced to make an emergency landing. Credit: Steve Le Van
The couple were forced to make an emergency landing. Credit: Steve Le Van
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Adding: " With the debris on the wing, it felt like it was trying to stall the tail. Having heard other pilot stories I was more concerned after falling out the sky rather than running out of field, if we got there."

After the plane has come to a halt, Mr Le Van can be heard telling his wife: "Get out and get far away from this!"

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Looking around, she then replies: "Look at the sea of portable loos! That would have been absolutely horrible!"

Then asking: "Where are we? What the hell happened?"

According to reports, the couple had been flying their plane with others at Charlton Park, and were just 15 minutes into the flight home when problems started to occur.

It's understood that neither Mr Le Van nor his wife were injured during the incident.

Featured Image Credit: Steve Le Van

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Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]