In a first of its kind incident in India, a four-seater aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing on a National Highway in Betul. The aircraft, according to officials, belonged to a Betul-based NRI industrialist Sam Verma.
The emergency landing was made on National Highway 69 after the aircraft, which was being flown by Verma himself, was caught in rough weather. The aircraft landed near Milanpur on the Betul-Nagpur National Highway around 9.30 am on Tuesday, about 190 km from the state capital. Betul Collector Rajesh Mishra told the Express that the government would write to the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) to confirm if Verma had the required permission to fly the aircraft. “The aircraft was being flown by Sam Verma. Initial reports suggest that he does not have the permission to fly the aircraft. We are contacting the DGCA for further information. Once we get the information from them we will take action”, Mishra said.
Officials said that Verma owned a private airstrip in Betul, but because of bad weather and strong winds, he was not able to land his aircraft on the airstrip, after which he contacted the local Air Traffic Controller (ATC) seeking help.
The ATC for want of another alternative, asked Verma to land his aircraft on the Highway. “The National Highway was closed from both the sides and only then was the pilot given permission to land”, a police official said.
Verma was in the news in February 2003 after he flew a four-seater aircraft from Betul to Nagpur using a bio-fuel made from maize and jowar. Earlier in 2002, Verma was involved in a similar incident, when his four-seater Piper PA-30 aircraft had a narrow escape when its landing wheels did not open and an emergency landing had to be carried out.