Coffs City Skydiving pilot Rav Sharma believes his emergency unpowered landing on the weekend was simply part of his job.
Coffs City Skydiving pilot Rav Sharma believes his emergency unpowered landing on the weekend was simply part of his job. Trevor Veale

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.



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