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Plane mechanic: Lucky to be alive

By Alexis Fernandez 6:43 AM January 8, 2014

Crew went into combat mode after plane lost power

ANCHORAGE – Arthur Racicot said he’s lucky to be alive.

He was the mechanic in the Cessna 172RG Cutlass that ended up on a snowy median on a busy East Anchorage street Tuesday afternoon.

Around 1 p.m., Racicot, a student and a flight instructor with Land & Sea Aviation Alaska took off from Merrill Field on a maintenance flight.

A short time later, something went wrong and the plane lost power. Racicot said that’s when the crew went into combat mode.

“When any high stress situation occurs, you always fall back on training, and you really concentrate on what’s going on…you really don’t see anything else, focusing on what’s happening right there to get you out of the situation,” Racicot said.

The pilot tried to land at Campbell Airstrip, but couldn’t, so the next option was Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson, he said.

The crew then saw an open space along Boniface Parkway just south of Debarr Road.  At the last minute, the pilot decided to land the plane there and ended up on a snowy median across from Perry Drive, Racicot recalled.

“We had a pretty good pilot on board with us too — that actually landed the plane, did an excellent job not hitting any poles, or anything else,” he said.

The plane was intact, except for what appeared to be some damaged landing gear.

All three walked away without a scratch and then the reality of what had just happened started sinking in, he said.

“You get the whole picture. That’s when you start to calm down, the dangers over, and body takes back over,” he continued.

Despite the close call, Racicot finds humor in a landing that could have ended much differently.

“The biggest thing was we scared a car on the way down,” Racicot said in joking manner.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

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