Fire trucks and law enforcement officers were standing by Sunday evening at airports in Ness and Barton counties, but the pilot of a damaged two-passenger airplane landed at the Larned/Pawnee County Municipal Airport.
Steve Gross, airport manager at Larned, said the pilot had landed and left by the time he arrived at the airport. Gross had been advised of a possible landing gear problem sometime after 8:30 p.m. Pilots can activate the airport’s landing lights from their planes if they know the code. Gross said airport lights take 12 minutes to go through a cycle.
Great Bend Municipal Airport Manager Martin Miller said police and firefighters were on standby for an airplane in distress with a possible landing gear issue. The GBPD call log shows authorities were contacted at 8:37 p.m. by Kansas Highway Patrol, with a report that a small plane had attempted to land at the Ness City Municipal Airport and was headed east. The plane had reportedly hit a guide wire and lost or damaged its wheels.
Eddie Wassinger, manager of the Ness City airport, said there were two kit-built planes flying low near that airport Sunday evening, and one took out a power line, leaving several rural homes without electricity for a time.
"It looked to me like he had torn up some (wheel) fairing," Wassinger said. The pilot whose craft was not damaged did land, but took off after the first pilot overflew the landing strip a couple of times before heading east.
That’s when Great Bend was notified, but apparently the pilot was headed toward the Larned/Pawnee County Airport, which Wassinger believes he was more familiar with. Wassinger said they didn’t have radio contact with the pilot, and the plane’s radio may also have been damaged.
Additional reporting by Jim Misunas