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Local pilot weighs in on week's emergency landings

WBFO News file photo

There were three separate emergency landings at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport this week. Two were large commercial aircraft and one was a small plane. WBFO's Eileen Buckley talked with a longtime pilot who puts the incidents into perspective.

"I think that generally speaking, airplanes break occasionally or you will have difficulties," said Richard Middlaugh, Chief Flight instructor at Prior Aviation in Cheektowaga. Middlaugh has nearly 50 years of flying experience and is a retired Navy pilot.

Middlaugh tells WBFO News pilots are trained to land safely. He says he is not too concerned about the incidents.

"The first thing I say is take a deep breath, because there is that moment of this can't really be happening and you don't want to overreact. You want to keep calm, analyze the situation and make the best possible procedures to handle the emergency effectively and safely," said Middlaugh.

On Thursday, a Delta Flight to Atlanta experienced engine trouble shortly after taking off from Buffalo.

"You know you train for engine out landings. You train for pressurization problems," noted Middlaugh.

The on Wednesday a United Express Flight from Chicago-O'Hare to Hartford declared an emergency and safely landed in Buffalo. There were initial concerns with cabin pressure after about three passengers passed out. Early Tuesday morning a small plane also made an emergency landing at the Buffalo Airport when smoke alarms sounded.

Middlaugh noted the key is for pilots to make the decision to get the plane on the ground as soon as possible. 

"There's an old saying, 'You'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, then in the air wishing I was on the ground'", said Middlaugh. 

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