Landing incident reported at airport

Published 7:25 pm Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sheriff Dennis Meeks was involved in a landing incident at the South Alabama Regional Airport Saturday that resulted in the runway being closed and reports filed with the FAA. No one was hurt.

Airport administrator Jed Blackwell said the sheriff was flying a plane used for training pilots. Blackwell said when the plane’s landing gear malfunctioned, Meeks, pulled up, circled the airport, and landed the aircraft on its stomach.

“It wasn’t a full crash,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell said he wasn’t at the airport during the landing, but from what he’s been told, Meeks “did a good job” landing the plane.

The Andalusia Police Department, Andalusia Fire Department, Advanced EMS, Covington County Sheriff’s Department, and other rescue agencies responded to the incident.

Blackwell said proper procedures were followed and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was called. Based on Blackwell’s recommendation, the FAA allowed the SARA to clear the site. The South Alabama Regional Airport closed the runway and the fire department cleared the debris before the FAA gave SARA permission to reopen the runway.

There was some damage to the plane, which was insured, Blackwell said. There also was some damage to some runway lights.

Meeks was not flying the Ximango Power Glider recently donated to the sheriff’s office by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, who originally obtained the plane from the U.S. Air Force.