Mesa police help pilot in trouble

MESA, AZ - Two Mesa police helicopter pilots are being credited with helping the pilot of a small plane with landing gear trouble land safely Wednesday night.

The pilot of a 1970 Cessna was testing the newly repaired avionics when he ran into trouble, Mesa police said.

After taking off from Mesa Falcon Field last night, the 48-year-old Gilbert man noticed the landing gear wasn't working properly.

Two pilots from Mesa police Air Unit instructed him on how to best land on two out of three wheels.

Officers Dave Holden and Darren Rigsby are very familiar with the emergency procedures to make a safe landing. Rigsby is an instructor who trains pilots on the very same type of Cessna that was in trouble.

Video from the Mesa police air unit's camera shows sparks flying as the plane touched down.

The left landing gear failed upon landing at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, but the pilot managed to walk away.

"He did a great job," Holden said. "Probably one of the best landings I've ever seen."

The aircraft sustained damage to its left wing tip and left tail area. There was also a small fuel leak, according to police.

Despite thousands of hours of training and flying, Rigsby had never before talked down a pilot in trouble.

Police said the small plane's pilot was headed to Chandler Airport when the incident occurred. He was diverted to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport due to its longer runways and better equipped fire and police response.


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