It’s hard to say how we might react in an airplane emergency—imagine learning that the wheel fell off your airplane while in mid-flight!
That’s exactly what happened to Maggie Taraska from Gloucester, Massachusetts when her plane took off from Beverly Airport. The thing is, Maggie is 17 years old, and she was also the pilot, flying solo.
It was supposed to be her first flight across the country … until something went very wrong.
17 year old solo student pilot Maggie Taraska successfully landed a PA-28-161 Warrior at Beverly Airport yesterday after losing a wheel on departure.
With the reassuring assistance of the Tower and instructor she walked away from the aircraft unhurt. pic.twitter.com/nfhBFfRmdj
— Flight Alerts (@FlightAlerts777) September 10, 2018
“I heard something, and I kind of just felt something was wrong instinctively,” Maggie explained. She soon got a radio call from air traffic control telling her that her right main wheel had just fallen off her airplane.
The teen quickly came to grips with a terrifying reality, “I realized I’m all alone. There’s no one that can take over for me, I have to do it myself.”
That’s when Maggie’s last 3 years of training took over, though a very real fear could be heard in her voice over the radio. “Can I circle back to land?” she asked pleadingly.
“Affirmative,” replied the air traffic controller, who tried to ease her fears.
Maggie later recounted, “You have to go back to the basics, and you just have to remember what you’re doing and how you are going to do it.”
Then she seemed to regain her confidence and maneuvered her Piper PA28 preparing to perform a controlled crash landing. Upon seeing emergency lights flashing near the landing area down below, though, she began to think not everyone though it was going to end well.
Yet, despite having only 60 hours of flight under her belt, Maggie performed a textbook crash landing, with the precision of an experienced pilot. She hit a few signs, but the aircraft didn’t flip, thankfully, as she has expected it to. And Maggie came out with just a few scratches, but was all but unharmed.
From the ordeal, Maggie took away an important lesson, something we should all learn from, “Bad things happen all the time, and it can’t deter you from doing what you want to do or doing what you love.”
Five days later, Maggie took off again. She said, “everything is going to go fine.”