Mesa police perform mid-air rescue

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

MESA, Ariz. -- Two Mesa police officers were on patrol Wednesday evening in a police helicopter when they heard the pilot of a small plane was having trouble with his aircraft.

"If I could get somebody to check it out. I'll swing the plane back and forth and see if my right gear is locked or not," airplane pilot Gonzalo Ardavin could be heard saying over the radio.

The officers confirmed the left rear landing gear of Gonzalo's Cessna 210 was not in position.

"If I could get somebody to help guide me...obviously I'm going to want to stay on my right side as long as I possibly can. Do I come in full flaps? Do I try and slow the plane down as much as a possible? What do I do when I go to land this?"

Luckily, the Mesa police officers who were hovering nearby are very familiar with that airplane. It is the same model they fly for the Mesa Police Dept.

Officer Darren Rigsby helped the pilot prepare for the tricky landing. "Once you know you're committed to landing get that fuel pump off," Officer Rigsby told Ardavin over the radio.

Moments later that pilot made his approach and landed on just two of his three wheels at PhxMesa Gateway Airport. He walked away without a scratch.

"He brought it all the way down to the ground. He did exactly what he was supposed to do," said Officer Rigsby. "I would guarantee there's probably several people out there that would not have walked away from that."