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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Close call during landing at Cherokee airport

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heavy ice build-up causes plane to skid off runway

Brian Lauck, manager of the Cherokee Airport, inspects the damage done to a single engine plane piloted by Kent Wenck of Cherokee on Thursday. Wenck's plane skidded off the runway due to the heavy ice build- up of recent days. Photo by Mike Leckband
There is an old saying in aviation - " Any landing you walk away from is a good landing." Kent Wenck of Cherokee proved that last week.

Wenck was returning home from a trip to Arizona on Thursday when the plane that he was piloting, a Piper Comanche 260B, touched down at the Cherokee Airport at about 3 p.m.

Shortly after he touched down, the plane suddenly skidded about eight feet off the runway, with the heavy ice build up on the runway being a factor in the rough landing.

The momentum of the skid caused Wenck's landing wheel on the pilot's side of the plane to snap off, and also bent the passenger side wheel.

The bottom of the plane then nose -dived onto the ground, causing damage to the underside of the plane and also buckling the propellers of the single engine craft.

It was his knowledge of the airport that prevented the near -tragedy. Wenck is the Chairman of the Cherokee Airport Authority, has come and gone from the Cherokee Airport for several years, and knows the airport like the back of his hand.

Of Thursday's landing, wenck said, "I was originally going to land from the south, but due to all the ice ,I knew I wouldn't be able to use my braking system. Plus I noticed that the wind was coming out of the south at about 20 mph, and since it's always better to land into the wind, I decided to come in from the north. That way, I could use the drag and the wind to stop. There was no way I would be able to use my brakes on that much ice. So with the approach from the north, I thought I would be able to have plenty of room on the runway to slow down without using the brakes"

Wenck also pointed out that the south side of the runway has a small slope, and he felt that if he landed from the south he may have built up speed going down the slope. By landing from the north, he felt he would have more room to slow down naturally, and if he did come in too fast, he felt would be able use the slope to de-celerate.

Kent Wenck, right, removes the straps used to lift his battered plane onto a hay rack Friday morning. Cherokee Airport Manager Brian Lauck, left, also assisted in the removal of the plane from the airport's runway. Photo by Mike Leckband.
With the landing gear inoperable, the plane had to spend the night on the runway, forcing airport manager Brian Lauck to close the runway overnight.

Work began early Friday morning to get the plane off the runway. A crane from Haselhoff Construction was called in to pick up the plane using cargo straps and placing it on a hay trailer. The plane was then hauled to one of the airport hangers, where it now rests. Lauck was able to re-open the runway to the public by about 10 a.m. Friday morning.

Wenck did not suffer any injuries in the incident, and he was extremely grateful for all the help he received Friday morning when several friends came to help him get his plane off the runway.

There is no cost estimate yet on the damage the plane sustained.

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