A private Cessna aircraft of an NRI industrialist made an emergency landing on National Highway 69 near Betul in Madhya Pradesh around 9.35am on Tuesday after strong winds foiled the pilot’s bid to land at an airstrip.
Industrialist Sam Varma was not in his 4-seater aircraft, which had taken off from the airstrip on his company — Michigan Rubber (India) Ltd — premises in Betul, about 175 km southeast of state capital Bhopal.
“Pilot Jacob informed me about the difficulty in landing. There was a strong wind from the east side. The landing was done successfully with the support of the (Betul district) administration,” Varma told mediapersons.
“Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the process.”
Varma said the aircraft could not land from the other end because the National Highways Authority of India had raised 110-foot pillars at that side near the airstrip while building NH 69.
The pilot made at least three attempts to land at the company airstrip, but had to make the rounds in the air for almost an hour before the administration could line up the emergency runway on the NH, with precautionary measures in place.
The pilot’s initial suggestion to Varma was to go for an emergency landing in a nearby water reservoir, but Varma, an aviation expert himself, got in touch with the district administration to chart the highway landing.
NH 69, which runs from Obaidullahganj (MP) to Nagpur (Maharashtra) is being four-laned. The administration chose a stretch and stopped traffic to facilitate the landing. Fire tenders and a police contingent were also deployed.
Varma said all necessary permission had been taken for the flight. On the pilot, he stuck to the name Jacob, without sharing details. "Friends often fly the plane. There is nothing wrong in it."