How a veteran pilot’s quick thinking led to a lucky escape after aircraft crash lands into Hong Kong golf course

Both instructor and pilot unhurt after Cessna 152 experiences mechanical problems

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2017, 12:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2017, 11:34pm

A veteran flying instructor has revealed how he had to make a crash landing into a group of trees at a Ma On Shan golf course on Sunday to avoid any potential casualties.

Alex Yan Tak-chung, the former president of the Hong Kong Aviation Club, who has about 2,000 hours of flying experience, said he had to take over control of the aircraft from the pilot after encountering mechanical problems.

The aircraft ended up plunging into the trees at Garden Farm Golf Centre. It was left hanging from the branches about six meters above ground, with its left wing damaged and parts strewn across the grass below.

“I am fine,” Yan said. “We walked away from the scene.”

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Yan and the unnamed pilot set off from Shek Kong Airfield in Yuen Long earlier Sunday morning.

The pilot, who has about 300 hours of flying experience and an overseas licence, was taking the Hong Kong flying licence examination at the time, Yan said.

He said the mechanical problems began when the pilot tried to accelerate the aircraft while flying close to Sai Kung. Yan quickly informed the Civil Aviation Department’s control tower and made an urgent call for an emergency landing.

“If we had landed on the ground, there could have a chance of the plane flipping over,” he said. “We applied what we learnt in class to real life.”

“This kind of accident has not happened to me for years, but I am not frightened,” Yan said.

Fire Services Department New Territories East division commander Hoi Wai-ming said the incident was reported to authorities at about 11.17am.

A total of 35 fire engines with 132 firefighters and rescuers were dispatched to the scene, he said.

Yan and the pilot were sent to Prince of Wales Hospital however both managed to escape injury and were soon discharged.

The plane, an American-made two-seater Cessna 152, is owned by the Hong Kong Aviation Club and is understood to be a total loss.

Engineers from the Hong Kong Aviation Club visited the scene to inspect the damage done to the plane. Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Department said it had set up an investigation task force to look into the accident.

It is not the first time one of the Hong Kong Aviation Club’s Cessna model aircraft has been involved in such an accident. A decade ago, an aircraft of the same make made an emergency landing on the wall of the Plover Cove Reservoir’s main dam after its engine also ran into problems. The plane was not damaged and no one was injured.

In February last year, off the coast of the same reservoir, an experienced pilot died when his aircraft plunged into the sea.