When part of her landing gear fell off, a veteran pilot on the ground took action.

Taylor Hash wanted to be a career pilot. She had just started accumulating hours of flight time when disaster struck. As she guided the Diamond Star plane off the runway at Oakland County International airport, on her third-ever solo flight, the front tire of her plane fell off. 

Hash was blissfully unaware at that point that she had just lost crucial landing gear. “I didn’t feel anything on the takeoff roll,” she said.

Veteran pilot Chris Yates, though, saw something on the takeoff roll and immediately took action. He knew that Hash would have to make a difficult emergency landing. He radioed the control tower and said, “That Diamond Star that just took off lost its nose wheel tire on the runway.”

But the control tower operators didn’t know what to do. They’d never seen such a thing happen before. Yates asked them to put him through to Hash so he could help her.

Scary Emergency Landing

When Hash learned what had happened, she was terrified. With only 57 total flight hours under her belt, she didn’t know what her options were and could only imagine how this was going to end.

“I didn’t know what to do in that moment,” said Taylor. “I’m just kinda freaking out and figuring out how I’m going to land this plane safely.

Yates knew what to do. He knew that the most important thing would be to keep Hash calm so that she could follow this instructions effectively.

In their recorded radio conversation, we hear Yates start by reassuring Hash that everything is going to turn out just fine: “Taylor, this is Chris. My daughter’s name is Taylor, and I taught her to fly! We’re gonna be just fine, kiddo.” 

“You’re Okay”

He told her to take her time, that she could circle the field until she was ready to land. “When you touch down, I just want that stick all the way back. You’re gonna hold that stick back like you don’t want that nose to touch,” he coached her.

As the plane coasted down and Hash braced herself for the jarring impact, Yates talked her down, repeating, “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.”

The plane touched down, and a second later, the nose of the plane hit the ground hard. Hash, though, was safe and sound. When the plane finally stopped moving, both the veteran and the novice pilots cried tears of relief.

“Thatta girl,” radioed Yates, “proud of you.”

Hash and Yates have kept in touch since the incident, talking every day and planning to fly together soon. When Hash told Yates that she was planning on becoming a career pilot, he replied, “This is a good start.” Now Hash knows what it is like to operate under pressure, and she has earned a couple new skills.

“Had he not seen the wheel fall off,” said Hash, “it’s hard to think about what could have happened.” She herself had not known anything was amiss after takeoff. It was only Yates’ keen eye and quick thinking that had alerted the young pilot to the problem; and it was his experience and his calm that helped bring about a happy ending.