A22LS Foxbat beach landing

french-island-01This afternoon (25 February) an A22LS made a beach landing at the eastern tip of French Island, Victoria.

The news media has variously reported this as an ’emergency’ or ‘forced’ landing and that three people were on board. None of this is true and most outlets have now corrected their initial reports.

The pilot and a friend were taking the aircraft from Tyabb on a flight round the local area, when they decided to make an unplanned landing on a beach where they had seen other aircraft land in the past. Unfortunately, although they did a check fly past first, the sand (and some mud) turned out to be deeper and softer than they expected.

The aircraft landed safely but when turning to taxi for take-off, it became clear that the sand in places was very soft and they would not be able to take-off again. During entry into some soft sand, at only a slow taxiing speed, the propeller suffered damage to the tips. The pilot contacted the authorities to report the situation. No-one was injured (other than their pride!) in any way.

The aircraft has been moved up the beach to be well clear of the tide and will be retrieved by barge on Sunday before checks and any needed repairs are carried out for the aircraft to return to service.

There are lessons in this for all of us. Although the A22LS Foxbat has an enviable record, including many thousands of safe off-airport landings by farmers and station owners, you can never presume that landing areas remain the same today as yesterday. Wherever sand and water meet, there is always the possibility that the surface is not as solid as you thought.

Thankfully, this landing resulted in no more than some severely dented pride and only minor damage to the aircraft’s propeller.