AN AMATEUR pilot and off-duty police officer was forced into a nail-biting emergency landing yesterday morning near Casino Aerodrome when the engine of his ultra light plane conked out 300 metres above the ground.
Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Nicole Bruce said the pilot had only just taken off and was roughly 350 metres from the aerodrome, near a water tower on the corner of Hare and Walker streets, when the engine stopped.
Forced to make a series of quick life-saving decisions, the pilot banked his now gliding plane back towards the aerodrome, losing precious altitude in the process.
Witnesses at a cabin park and retirement village a few hundred metres west of the aerodrome described seeing the light plane gliding delicately just metres above their roofs.
In a desperate last-ditch manoeuvre while losing metres every second, the pilot was forced to swerve his plane mid-flight to avoid striking the last house before an unused section of the runway.
The last-second turn forced him to land on a grassy area north of the runway, and while the touch down was reportedly smooth, one wheel of the plane struck an electricity meter which caused the plane to flip over.
Inspector Bruce said the pilot, hanging with his seatbelt on, was able to dislodge himself and crawl out.
He was miraculously unharmed.
Fire and Rescue NSW, Casino Volunteer Rescue Squad, and local police arrived at the scene within minutes where they quickly cordoned off the area due to concern over leaking fuel from the aircraft.
Investigations into the cause of the mechanical failure are continuing.