Teen Pilot Makes Successful Emergency Landing

Authorities say a 17-year-old student pilot making her first solo flight executed a successful emergency landing in Massachusetts after losing a wheel during takeoff.

The pilot, identified as Maggie Taraska, of Gloucester, took off from Beverly Regional Airport on Sunday afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration says soon after takeoff, the pilot of the single-engine, fixed-wing plane reported losing her right main wheel assembly.

"I was terrified and I was hoping for the best," Taraska said Monday. "As soon as I took off, basically I heard something and felt something was wrong instinctively."

Taraska's instructor on the ground, John Singleton, talked her through the proper technique for an emergency landing.

"You could hear the stress in her voice. My only objective was to keep her calm and keep her focused," said Singleton

As Singleton spoke with her, Taraska became more confident that she could actually land the plane.

"Hearing people not panic like I was panicking was a reassuring sign, I guess," said Taraska.

With just over 60 hours of flight time, the Manchester-Essex High School senior successfully landed at about 5:45 p.m.

"I just remember getting jostled around, it was really bumpy and then hitting the grass and then signs and then the taxiway and then more grass and I was just thinking, 'It's going to stop, it has to stop,'" Taraska recalled.

Although the plane suffered some damage, Taraska was not hurt.

She says the incident will not deter her from flying and she hopes to become a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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