A Langley pilot made an emergency landing in the field of Elphinstone Secondary School on Sunday afternoon after experiencing mechanical issues in the air near Gibsons.
"We were just off shore in Gibsons heading back to Langley, and one of the cylinders quit working," pilot Stan Corfe said, noting he was returning home after taking part in a local roller derby event with his girlfriend Shannon Handley. "So I lost power in the engine. I still had some power, but because it's not equal in all the cylinders there's quite a bit of vibration if you're trying to rev it."
Realizing he couldn't safely fly the plane back to the airport in Wilson Creek he looked for a nearby field large enough to set down his Cessna 150.
The space at Elphinstone Secondary looked spacious enough, so Corfe took his approach.
"I had a little bit of a tailwind on the landing which was pushing me along," Corfe said. "I was a little bit high and touched down a little bit farther down than I would have liked to. I had about 600 feet or something like that across the field on a diagonal and I managed to get her down and just past the end of the pavement at the track there, she just went into the light brush at the end."
Once safely on the ground uninjured, Corfe started making a plan to get his plane off the field.
He realized he'd have to take the wings off the plane and have it towed back to his airplane mechanic in Langley, but he didn't have the tools needed or enough manpower to physically carry the wings once detached.
Enter the Coast community. Corfe's landing caused quite a stir in Gibsons and soon volunteers from the fire department, the roller derby community and the general public were pitching in to help.
"I want to thank the community. There are so many people who came out helping support the wings and bringing tools, and somebody brought pizza for people. Everybody was there helping out," Corfe said.
The entire effort took about five hours and Corfe was able to make the last ferry home with his plane in tow.
A member of the Sunshine Coast Roller Girls named Kat Roussos sent a letter to Coast Reporter this week thanking everyone for the stellar showing of support for Corfe, who was in town refereeing Saturday night's roller derby match.
"We in the Roller Derby community expect to look after each other, bonded as we are by our sport and the commitment it takes to create a team, train your players, and then play each other, literally, world wide. But to have the Sunshine Coast community step in on a sunny Sunday afternoon to help our friends just fills our hearts and makes our roller skate wheels spin," she wrote.
Corfe is still unsure exactly what went wrong with his plane and said his mechanic will likely look into the issue this week.
Sunshine Coast RCMP have turned over the file to the Transportation Safety Board, which is working with Corfe to ensure the plane's safety before it flies again.
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