Emergency services sight for sore eyes

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 08:12 19/12/2013
Cessna Caravan
Kat Duggan

A Cessna Caravan operated by Sounds Air made an emergency landing at Marlborough Airport today

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A passenger on a plane which made an emergency landing at Marlborough Airport was relieved to see firefighters, police and airport staff lined up by the runway waiting for them as they descended.

"The emergency services are alive and well, and so am I," Blenheim woman Toni Gillan said last night.

Gillan boarded the Sounds Air flight in Wellington at 12.30pm yesterday. It was due to land in Koromiko less than half-an-hour later.

But as the plane was flying over Cook Strait, she and the five other passengers on board heard a thud.

"We thought it was a bird hitting the plane," Ms Gillan said.

She was unable to hear the pilot's announcement, but the woman in front of her relayed a message that an emergency landing at Rarangi Beach was a possibility, she said.

On reflection she believes that was an unlikely scenario, but at the time it was a frightening prospect.

She could not believe she was in this situation on the same day she had learned she is to become a grandmother for the first time.

"I honestly thought I'd never see them," she said.

"I thought I would die."

She remained calm, along with the other passengers, including a grandmother and her two young grandchildren, aged about four and 10.

The plane landed at Marlborough Airport where the runway was bigger and emergency services had assembled.

St John staff gave her water and talked with her sister who arrived to pick her up about the possibility of shock setting in.

Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford spoke to her on the ground too, and sent an email later that day to apologise and explain what had happened, she said.

Gillan said she had no reservations about flying Sounds Air again. "These things happen. I'm just grateful to be alive."

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- The Marlborough Express

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