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Pilot makes emergency landing

Published On: Jul 26 2013 01:47:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 26 2013 06:07:47 PM CDT
CHICO, Calif. -

A Redding pilot made an unfortunate pit stop on his way to Tahoe. He had to make an emergency landing on Thursday at the Chico airport when his plane started filling up with smoke.

This is the first time Chico fire has responded to an airplane incident after those substantial cuts toward Station 3, the station that protects the airport.

Eric Ayers was about 10 minutes outside of Chico when he radioed the air traffic control tower saying a hydraulic hose was causing his cockpit to fill up with smoke.

From there, he did everything he could to get on the ground and that one firefighter that sits at the airport was ready.

Ayers took off from the Redding Airport just before 10 a.m. on Thursday and was on his way to Tahoe in his single engine plane.

About 20 minutes into the flight, he started hearing funny noises and then saw smoke.  Ayers was able to make a safe landing.

Chico fire got a 10 minute warning on when the plane was coming in which had crews on standby at the airport ready to go.

"We definitely could use the staffing,” said Lt. Bill Bartel.  “We used to be staffed with three but when I got out there and set the rig up for staging, I knew my resources were in route and I was relatively sure that [they] would be here by the time landed in this particular case.”

Ayers said his goal was just to get to safety as soon as possible.

"I wanted to get down on the ground and land the airplane safely.  If you're in a car you just stop and pull over.  At 8,500 feet it took me seven minutes to get down on the ground,” said Ayers.

Chico fire said they were fortunate this time because of the warning ahead of time. As for Ayers, he was not hurt in the landing.  In fact, he had a mechanic fix up his plane and he was back in the air a short time later.