Plane drama: Bathurst pilot lands safely after engine seizes

BATHURST woman Pip Shephard has come through one of the scariest experiences of her life after landing safety when her plane’s single engine cut out over Forbes last weekend.

Years of training paid off for the young pilot as she landed safely in a paddock.

Pip was flying at just 3000 feet, due to clouds, when the engine seized and she couldn’t restart it. 

“It took me a moment to realise what had happened,” she said.

A certain amount of fear kicked in, but so did the realisation that she had to put her training into practice and take action. 

Pip was flying solo, on her way from the family farm at Lake Cowal to Bathurst where she works, so there was no-one else to look to. 

The small plane had gone into a glide but she didn’t have a lot of margin for error. 

“Before you get your licence you practice forced landings,” Pip said. “They pull the power all the way back and say, show me what you would do.”

That’s practised at take-off, mid-flight, landing – in every scenario.

Pip did what she was trained to do, and everything went right. She looked for a place to land, checked whether she could re-start her engine and then looked again at the paddock she was aiming to land in. 

She had time to put in a mayday call before coming to a rather bumpy landing in paddock. 

Farmer Luke Mendham had seen her glide in and was quick to respond. 

Pip thanked him for his assistance both then and afterwards. As the plane wouldn’t restart they had to remove the wings and transport it out on a trailer. 

Pip’s mayday call had triggered the response of emergency services, with a helicopter already on the way from Wagga Wagga by the time she was able to let people know she had landed safely.

Local ambulance officers also attended. Pip was checked but was fine, if shaken. 

Pip's father Brad has been flying for a number of years and Pip got her pilot’s licence in 2015.

She’s passionate about aviation, and is planning to study a Bachelor of Aviation in Brisbane next year.

“I love flying, I wish I could do it more,” she said. “I want to ‘et back on the horse as soon as I can.” 

The cause of the engine failure remains a mystery. It is to be sent away for diagnosis. 

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