Cell phone call guides pilot to safety

By: Alicia Gentile Email
By: Alicia Gentile Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A pilot's biggest fear turned into reality as his landing gear lost power, but an emergency call may have saved his life.

When Raymond Cody's battery died, his panel went dead and he lost connection to the control tower. What should have been a smooth ride from Telluride to Grand Junction quickly turned into turmoil.

Gene Manzanares is the Master Coordination Center Officer for the TSA, and when his line rang, he didn't expect a call quite like the one he received.

"Our customer service line rang, and Mr. Cody was on the other end and he gave his tail number and his aircraft type, told me he was declaring an emergency," said Manzanares.

Raymond Cody is a Telluride pilot who was flying into Grand Junction, but when he was getting ready to land, he lost power in his landing gear. That is when he reached for his cell phone.

"I contacted Gene at TSA; it was the only phone number that I had. I had a little bit of anxiety-- I gotta be honest with you. And so he was very calm and put me in contact with the tower and just kinda talked us through it," said Cody.

Manzanares was on the phone with Cody through the entire process until he landed safely at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

Wednesday, the two men were able to meet so Cody could thank Manzanares.

"Gene's my hero...yeah he is. He was real calm, kept me calm, and I do appreciate it," said Cody.

Cody said this experience will not keep him from flying. He flew back to Telluride Wednesday and says if something like this ever happens again, he will know what to do.

TSA employees are trained to handle emergency situations. They handle all nine airports in Western Colorado, but officials say even though they come in contact with different emergency situations, the cell phone-assisted landing was a first.

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