It was an average Monday evening for the Gilkers. Durham Region residents Debbie and John were driving home Monday night, when they looked up and noticed something very unusual.
Heading westbound on Bayly Street in Ajax, Ont., John Gilker looked up and saw what appeared to be lights in the sky, unsure of what it could be.
“And all of a sudden, we knew what was happening,” said Debbie. “John saw the lights in the sky, and it was within that split second we said, ‘That’s a plane coming in and it’s going down fast.’”
The couple said they quickly made a U-Turn, and followed the plane in case there may have been a crash, or if someone needed help. But, to their relief, they said they were able to locate the plane in a few minutes.
“I was expecting to see a lot of damage. And I was really surprised to see the plane just sitting there pretty well intact,” said John.
According to the couple, when they arrived to the scene the pilot was trying to get out of the plane but seemed uninjured. “He was having trouble getting out of the plane, I guess, because the doors were jammed. But anyway, he got out,” said Debbie.
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Sgt. Joanne Bortoluss with Durham Regional Police said they received a 9-1-1 call just after 8 p.m. about an aircraft in trouble.
Fortunately, the plane had successfully landed, using Bayly Street as its tarmac. “He was able to safely land the plane. He did strike some poles, because his wings were so far out, which did some damage to the poles and the wings of the plane, but overall, he was able to land the plane safely and no one was hurt on the ground,” she said.
Bortoluss said in all her time at Durham Regional Police, this was definitely a first.
The Transportation Safety Board told Global News that a Cessna 150M aircraft was forced to land mid-flight due to engine failure. The TSB confirmed it was able to land near the intersection of Bayly Street and Audley Road. Currently, they said they are continuing to gather information, but no criminal charges have been laid.
According to an external report obtained by Global News, the plane was on its way to Billy Bishop Airport, from the Oshawa airport, and was associated with the Island Air Flight School and Charters Inc.
Global News reached out for comment but has still not heard back.
“In hindsight, I’m thinking he probably was in a bit of shock … but he was physically OK,” said Debbie. “But I’m sure he probably thanks just lucky stars that he was alive too.”
As for the Gilkers, it’s a night they won’t forget anytime soon.
“This morning at the breakfast table, we both looked at each other and I said, ‘I couldn’t sleep last night’, and he said, ‘Neither did I’,” said Debbie.
“We realized how close we came to something that could have changed our lives.”
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.