BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
Nine passengers aboard a Sky Care aircraft en route from Thunder Bay to Pikangikum, with a stop in Red Lake last Friday, are shaken up after the Piper Navajo hit the runway at the Red Lake Airport with its landing gear still up.
“It just bounced. It was almost…I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. It’s really hard to think about it,” one passenger, Harriet Strang, told The Northern Sun News. “After, I heard that pilot say everybody should get out before that plane catches on fire…I think something like that. I thought the tires were OK at the front but when I got off…you know those foot stools? They were just laying flat on the ground. When we got out we saw the plane was just flat on the chest. That’s how it landed.”
Strang says she spoke to Sky Care after the incident happened.
“I talked to that pilot over the cell phone and he wanted to come pick us up at the Red Lake Airport and fly us back here (to Pikangikum) because he was very sorry,” she said. “I started to think…I don’t know…I just didn’t want to go back on the plane. We used a taxi. The band wanted to pay to fly us back from Red Lake to Pikangikum, but all of us said that we weren’t going to fly anymore. We were all scared. All shaken up.”
She says she wasn’t physically injured herself, but a few people were.
“When we got back…I don’t think it was even two hours later that I heard one of those passengers was medi-vac’ed out. She fainted at home. I guess she started to seizure.”
She says her step uncle also banged his knee while exiting the plane and has since been taken to the nursing station because he’s been having nightmares about the incident.
Strang travels regularly with her common law partner for his dialysis treatment in Thunder Bay and says she’s not sure if she’ll be able to fly again.
Frank Behrendt, President of Sky Care, says the incident is currently under investigation by the company’s Safety Management Program in cooperation with the Transportation Safety Board.
“Any recommendations that come out of that (investigation) we’ll incorporate that either through training or policies,” he said.