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Liberty University says extensive training helped student pilot avoid disaster

A student from LU's School of Aeronautics was on a training flight Friday when he crashed at Roanoke Regional Airport

September 20, 2010|Tim Saunders | Reporter/Lynchburg Bureau Chief

LYNCHBURG, Va. — A close call for a student pilot over the weekend.

Federal investigators are looking into what caused a Liberty University student to make a crash landing at the Roanoke airport Friday night.  The pilot was part of LU's School of Aeronautics.

The student was on a routine training flight to Roanoke.  As he approached the runway at Woodrum Field, the pilot realized the plane's landing gear wasn't working.

After consulting with air traffic controllers and an instructor on-board, the pilot safely made a nose-first landing.

"We feel like our guys did a great job following what they've been taught," says James Mashburn, Director of Flight Operations for LU's School of Aeronautics.  Mashburn was in Lynchburg Friday night, communicating with the flight crew.

The emergency that happened Friday is one of many scenarios LU preps its student pilots to handle.

"We constantly prepare our students and our flight instructors so that they are ready and able to handle any situation that may arise," says Dave Young, Dean of LU's School of Aeronautics.

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LU uses high-tech simulators to give students a realistic look at flying.

"They learn and practice various situations that could occur in the air, so that they are better prepared, fully prepared," says Young.

Students spend about 10 hours training on this equipment before they ever take flight "to make sure that our pilots and our student pilots are well versed trained in the equipment they will be flying," says Young.

Mashburn says the pilot who crashed Friday went through an extensive checklist before attempting to land.  He worked with air traffic controllers and most importantly stayed calm.

"We can't simulate every single emergency that's going to happen, but the one thing we really train our students and instructors to do is to utilize every resource they've got," says Mashburn.  "We really feel like our guys did a great job in doing that."

LU officials say the crash was simply an equipment malfunction.  No one was injured.  The FAA is doing its own investigation to learn exactly what happened.

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