Ex-congressional candidate, friends have brush with death Plane is forced to make an emergency landing

February 20, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Any airplane landing you can walk away from is a good one, an old saying goes.

Gerry L. Brewster and five friends did just that Sunday -- walked away unhurt after a plane made a scary belly landing at Martin State Airport in Middle River.

"It really makes you appreciate life a lot more when you are that near death," said Mr. Brewster, a former prosecutor and unsuccessful congressional candidate who teaches history and government at Baltimore County's Chesapeake High School.

Mr. Brewster and his friends had flown to Miami Thursday night to attend a boat show. As the single-engine turbo prop aircraft neared the Martin field about 7 p.m. Sunday, its landing gear alarm went on. While lights indicating the gear was down went on after a passenger manually pumped the gear, air-traffic controllers insisted that they could not see the wheels.

"We must have passed the tower six times," Mr. Brewster said. "But the controllers kept saying that they could not see the wheels."

Mr. Brewster's college friend, pilot Scott Franz, 36, decided to land the plane as if the wheels were not in position. "We landed with the tail very low and the nose up," Mr. Brewster said.

They heard a loud scraping as the plane skidded down the runway, and saw fire engines and rescue squads following it, Mr. Brewster said. "We were just blowing by the emergency vehicles. They couldn't keep up with us."

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