Pilot’s happy landing makes Rav the hero of the skydiving day
MOST people wouldn't expect nose-diving after engine failure to be a blessing, but for Coffs City Skydiving's Rav Sharma it was.
The 29-year-old pilot was on a routine skydive flight on Saturday when his throttle stopped responding to inputs.
Taking two first-time skydivers to 4000m to be strapped to professional skydivers and jump out of his plane turned into a potential disaster. His first thoughts were the best way to get his passengers out of the plane if possible or a forced landing without power.
Adding drama, the control tower had him circle off the coast while a Qantaslink Dash 8 took off and a Tiger Airways A320 landed.
"About 20 minutes into the flight I felt something happen at about 4500 feet (1500m) - a bit of fuel starvation which I thought was icing," Mr Sharma said, referring to the cold air at altitude freezing the fuel.
"I still had response from the throttle which was good because I could get more height which bought me some time in the end."
After climbing to 3200m, Sharma realised he had a serious problem and radioed a mayday and the tower gave him priority.
Surveying beaches for a landing, he told the divers to jump.
"They opened (their parachutes) high so they actually managed to get to where they were meant to," he said.
He then made a decision that turned out to be exactly the right thing to do - to head back to the airport and prevent the need to recover the plane from a beach.
Diving quickly not only gave Sharma more response to his control, but also let him finish his landing and taxi off the runway.