BEVERLY, Mass. — A student pilot on one of her first solo flights pulled off an incredible feat when she safely landed a plane after it lost one of its main wheels on takeoff.
Maggie Taraska, 17, took off from Beverly Regional Airport on Sunday to fly to Portland, Maine, but the plane lost its right main wheel shortly after taking off.
"As soon as I took off, basically, I heard something," Taraska said. "I just felt something was wrong instinctively."
Taraska spoke a day after the incident, and mentioned how frightening the situation was.
"I was scared and stressed out," Taraska said. "Obviously, if you listen to my conversation with the tower, you can hear that pretty clearly."
In her conversation with the tower, Taraska was asked if she was flying solo, and she replied with the fact that she was both a student pilot and by herself.
"It was very serious and could have been much worse," Beverly Airport manager Gloria Bouillon said. "You know, she was pretty shaken up."
Bouillon said Taraska was emotional after learning she'd need to make an emergency landing with just two of three wheels.
"She was up there until we were fairly safe and certain that she was ready to land," Bouillon said.
Taraska's father Walter said his daughter did an incredible job as he held his breath and watched the landing at the airport.
"By the time I saw Maggie coming on her approach, it was a better approach I could have flown," Walter Taraska said. "And I got more hours than she does."
Cheers filled the tower when the 17-year-old landed, an
Bouillon said the plane had plenty of fuel for the pilot to circle around for about half an hour until she was calm enough to land.
"There were personnel talking her through this, her instructor as we were working the ground crew, and the emergency response as far as staging and what runway we were going to have her land on," Bouillon said.
Bouillon praised Taraska's instructor for the job done on the ground to coach her through the landing over the radio.
In the end, a team effort had a happy ending, with no injuries in the incident.
"What she pulled off was pretty incredible," Bouillon said. "Typically landing without one wheel is certainly one you don't expect to walk away from."
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