Watching from the ground as the glider descended at a high rate of speed, all Capt. Clark Davidsen remembers was his emergency training kicking in.
“I was on the field and my launch control officer directed my attention to the aircraft that was on late base turning final,” recalled the Royal Canadian Air Cadet glider wing operations officer.
“From where we were we couldn’t see it touch down, but we could hear when she started to flare over the trees in the orchard.
“That’s when the training we’ve done begins so we can provide immediate response to anything that may occur, and that’s what we did.”
Fortunately, to everyone’s relief those skills were not needed as the unharmed Penticton teenager was able to walk away from the impromptu landing site in an orchard just south of the Oliver Airport.
“I was surprised, she (pilot) was in good spirits and handled it very well, very professional,” said the operations officer.
“She had a lot of good support on the ground with a good team around her and now she’s eager to get out again and get back in the cockpit.”
The incident took place Sunday morning while the Transport Canada licensed glider pilot was on a routine flight as part of the cadet proficiency program to build hours.
In large part, Davidsen credited the cadet’s training and skills for the positive outcome along with the glider’s sturdy design.
“At first it looked like she was going to make the runway, but it’s not uncommon to get a little behind the aircraft and have to commit to land someplace else, and once she did that (commit), she did everything right,” said the officer, who is also one of the field investigators in the case.
“She landed between the rows (of trees) at as slow a speed as possible.”
The aircraft, which was quarantined at the airport after its removal from the orchard, sustained some damage but is repairable, according to Davidsen.
The entire matter is under investigation by the director of flight safety for Canadian Forces out of 19 Wing Comox. Officials there were not available for comment.