Pilot makes emergency landing in Diamondhead

By Don Culpepper - bio | email

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - For a man who just brought his plane in a for a landing without landing gear, Jay Botsay of Diamondhead shows few signs of anxiety over his nerve racking late afternoon flight.

"It's an occasional thing that just happens," shrugs Botsay. "This is the equivalent of a blow out on your car on the interstate."

Botsay, an experienced private pilot, first noticed something was wrong when his front landing gear failed to deploy as he was approaching the Diamondhead Airport. That's when he asked emergency authorities on the ground for help.

"I went by the Stennis Tower, and we talked to them. (We) Had them look, and they verified that in fact the nose gear was not down but the main gear were. So we burned around as much and notified the safety people to get here by the airport in case there's an incident."

And those crews were in place as Botsay burned off as much fuel as he could, before bringing his Cessna Centurion in for a low and slow belly landing just before nightfall.

"Yeah the Fire Departments and the EMS people are incredibly good," says Botsay. "I appreciate them being here trying to protect us. Give them a little entertainment for the afternoon."

But instead of a rescue, those crews simply watched as Botsay brought the plane in for what Diamondhead Fire Chief Jerry Dubisson says was a near perfect landing.

"It was a picture perfect landing other than the landing gear of course," says Dubisson. "And the pilot is to be credited for that. And it's a good day, and everybody gets to go home safe."

Other than the damage to his plane Botsay's biggest concern is that his mishap might put others off flying.

"Theres no reason to be scared of little airplanes," says Botsay. "I'm more afraid of the big planes."