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Congressman John Murtha Calls for Immediate Troop Withdrawal; Road Warrior; CIA Leak Investigation; Small Airplane Experiences Landing Gear Trouble Outside of Atlanta
Aired November 17, 2005 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN LIVE TODAY.
We're continuing to monitor what is likely to be incendiary remarks coming from U.S. Representative John Murtha on Capitol Hill, calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Our Congressional Correspondent Ed Henry is with us now, and he's been monitoring these comments as well.
And Representative Murtha taking -- taking a stab at the White House, even though he was very supportive of the war in Iraq. He's a 37-year war -- or military veteran, a career-long Marine. He's taking a direct hit at the White House, now saying it's time to end this thing, and even criticizing the White House for its failure to use intelligence properly.
Is he saying this because he, in part, has great support on Capitol Hill and he is the right man to be able to make these kinds of comments on the Hill, Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, his voice certainly carries a lot of weight. He's a very senior Democrat, so it's not a shock that he would be taking a stab at the White House, of course, as you noted. But he carries a lot of weight because he's the top Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. That's a very powerful committee that funds the military, that funds the troops.
He voted for this war, as you suggested, and he was just a moment ago choking back tears. He's a -- he's a former Marine, as you noted, but he was choking back tears as he told reporters how he's been struggling with this issue, voting for the war, but now feeling -- as he said, the military has done its job. He said, "It's time now to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis."
So what he is calling for is the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. It would be staggered over the next six months so that, in his words, the troops would be safe, it could be done as safely as possible. But he said it is finally time to pull out. This is the most senior lawmaker in either party to say so.
Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D) PENNSYLVANIA: I'm saying the war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.
The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq. But it's time for a change in direction.
Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, the significance as well, is this follows just by two days that dramatic bipartisan Senate vote for a measure that basically told the Bush administration it's time to come up with a clear plan, tell the Congress, tell the American people what it is, a plan to end the war in Iraq.
No timetable. They rejected that Democratic amendment to come up with a timetable to start withdrawing troops. But that was a clear bipartisan signal that people on the Hill are getting restless.
You can already imagine the Republican push-back against John Murtha. But as I noted earlier, it's going to be tough for Republicans to say that this is someone who wants to cut and run since he's a former Marine, since he is respected by the Pentagon brass.
But even before Murtha's comments a short while ago on the Senate floor, a very respected Republican voice on this issue, Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, was talking about staying the course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (D), ARMED SERVICES: Politics should be checked at the water's edge. I say to my colleagues with a great respect for all, now is the time. The next 60, 90, 120, 180 days, that period is most critical. And I urge us to put aside our political differences, put aside our philosophical differences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: And we heard Vice President Cheney punching back even harder last night, taking some swipes at Democrats, some Democrats who voted for the war in Iraq, like John Murtha, for example, and now are essentially saying, it's time to get out.
Cheney taking those swipes, but it's interesting here, Republicans on the Hill, they have to face the voters next year. The president does not, the vice president does not, and the Republicans up here are watching that polls -- those polls very closely. They show support for the war slipping, support for this president slipping as well -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: And Ed, you mentioned, you know, making comments like this means that Representative Murtha runs the risk of being called unpatriotic. But given his military background, very few people are willing to do that.
Meantime, where does it go from here? HENRY: That is the $64,000 question that everyone wants to know. As you heard Mr. Murtha saying, he wants to wait until after the elections in December in Iraq before the troops actually start coming home.
We've heard other plans. Senator John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential nominee, wants 20,000 U.S. troops home by the holidays. I don't see any of those plans really going anywhere in the immediate future.
But what is next is more and more pressure on Republicans to come up, perhaps, with a plan of their own. Not something as far as what the Democrats are calling for with timetables, but at some point, what I think the White House might be nervous about, clearly, is whether Republicans start breaking away from the White House and coming up with their own plan.
So far they're not doing that. They're sticking with this White House, by and large. But there's clear nervousness in the Republican Party -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Ed Henry on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much.
Well, even before Representative Murtha's comments, the vice president has been going after the Democrats. He says charges the White House purposely twisted prewar intelligence are "dishonest and reprehensible."
A continent away, President Bush joined the new counterattack.
White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is on the road with Mr. Bush in South Korea.
MALVEAUX (voice over): President Bush touring South Korea's oldest Buddhist temple, 7,000 miles away from home but not out of reach from his political troubles. Earlier in the day, appearing with South Korea's president for an Asian trade summit, Mr. Bush jumped at the chance to answer Democratic criticism that the White House deliberately used misleading intelligence to go to war with Iraq.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is serious business winning this war. But it's irresponsible to do what they've done. So I agree with the Vice President.
MALVEAUX: The vice president, just hours earlier in Washington, let loose on the Democrats.
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the suggestion that's been made by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.
(APPLAUSE) MALVEAUX: Cheney has kept a relatively low profile since the indictment of his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, in the CIA leak case. Now he's assuming a job he had during the presidential elections, stinging the opposition with the sharpest of words.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Unfortunately, he brought his brunt (ph) mentality with him to the speech. He's repeating the same tired attacks we've heard from administrative officials over the last two weeks.
MALVEAUX: The White House campaign-style offensive has been criticized by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. The Vietnam veteran says questioning the government is not unpatriotic.
But the president draws a distinction.
BUSH: Listen, it's patriotic as heck to disagree with the president. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics.
MALVEAUX (on camera): White House officials believe that Democrats have crossed a bright line in accusing the administration of misleading the American people. And that misleading charges gone unanswered soon turn into facts, leaving the president with no choice but to respond.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Husan, South Korea.
WHITFIELD: And Democrat John Kerry has responded to Cheney's latest words, saying, "It's hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq than Cheney." In fact, John Kerry will be a guest with Wolf Blitzer later on today on "THE SITUATION ROOM" tonight at 7:00 Eastern.
Meantime, the CIA leak investigation takes another surprising turn. A noted reporter says a Bush administration source leaked to him first. And he says that source was not Scooter Libby, the only man charged in the leak affair charged with perjury.
CNN's Tom Foreman reports.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The "Who gave up Valerie Plame?" game has (INAUDIBLE) renowned Watergate journalist Bob Woodward. A month ago he implied he had no clue who in the White House had leaked Plame's identity as a secret CIA operative.
BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry.
FOREMAN: Now he says a White House source told him about Plame two years ago. And he's talked to the prosecutor investigating the leak. His boss says Woodward was protecting his source and the information about Plame was given only as background for a book deal.
LEONARD DOWNIE JR., EXEC. EDITOR, "WASHINGTON POST": Bob owed me and the newspaper an apology for not telling me. But if he had told me, I don't know what we would have been able to publish in the newspaper because of the confidentiality agreement under which this was stated.
FOREMAN: Many assume the vice president's indicted chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was the first to reveal Plame's secret in July 2003. But Woodward says another White House source, not Libby, told him about Plame a month earlier.
It's re-ignited the question: Did someone in the Bush inner circle unmask Plame to get even with her husband who attacked the president's case for war? If so, who?
Republicans are playing defense.
BAY BUCHANAN, AMERICAN CAUSE: It's a legitimate story, but it is hyped and intensified and played over and over in the press and coming out of the words -- the mouths of Democrats because it's an opportunity to get to the president of the United States, George Bush, and that's who they're after. That's the target.
FOREMAN: Maybe so. But Democrats say this is about war, and the implications could be huge.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And I think that's what it is. You know, at the end of the day, you know, the Nixon administration dismissed Watergate as a third-rate burglary. You know, guys like me who worked for Clinton dismissed Whitewater as a failed land deal. It was. But the investigation led to revelations that Clinton had cheated on his wife and lied about it.
This begins with something important, not something minor. And it's only grown. We are at war.
FOREMAN: The president has not been directly linked to this scandal, but each day seems to bring another attack on all this president's men.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: And should you be allowed to sue a judge when you think they've abused their authority? Straight ahead, we'll tell you about a ballot proposal that could overturn more than a century of courtroom tradition.
WHITFIELD: Well, when was the last time that you heard of a state or local judge being hauled into court to explain their judicial actions? Chances are never. It's not because judges don't make mistakes, because they sometimes do. But there is a legal precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court that effectively shields judges from lawsuits.
The state of South Dakota, however, could become the first in the country to challenge this principle.
Former federal prosecutor Kendall Coffey will join us in a few minutes to give us his take on this. But first, let's talk to attorney Gary Zerman, spokesman for the South Dakota Judicial Accountability Amendment.
Good to see you, Mr. Zerman.
GARY ZERMAN, ATTORNEY: Good morning. How are you?
WHITFIELD: I'm doing pretty good.
All right. First off, what's your understanding as to why there is such a thing as judicial immunity?
ZERMAN: I don't know. I think it's unconstitutional. None of the cases cite the Constitution. There's nothing in Article III. And moreover, it came from judges. Judges giving judges immunity violates the doctrine of separation of powers.
WHITFIELD: So why try to remove this immunity? Because by having the immunity, didn't that mean in part that the judge, instead of making emotional decisions by letting everyone know beforehand which way they would swing, that perhaps removing this kind of immunity might take away from that impartiality that is presumed most judges have?
ZERMAN: Well, let me dispel two myths right away. One, that the judiciary is independent, apolitical, above the fray. In fact, they're the third branch of government. So by definition, they're political. And right now you see the raw political power battles going on over the Supreme Court.
Now, one thing further, this immunity covers judges for malicious and corrupt acts. And there's a basic covenant in life that we owe -- all owe and expect of each other individual accountability.
The other myth is that judges, sitting at the pinnacle of power, we have this notion in America that no man is above the law, that we're a nation of laws and not men. But most people, and most attorneys included, do not know that judges have this absolute immunity from civil suit.
WHITFIELD: Why South Dakota?
ZERMAN: Well, because we have chapters all over the state, but South Dakota is a pure initiative state. We have a sponsor there. Bill Stagmeyer (ph), who is -- holds liberty in very high regard and was worried about this problem of judges getting out of control.
Also, the South Dakota constitution encourages this. It says that we continually need to go back to fundamental principles. WHITFIELD: Well, Mr. Zerman, talk about out of control. Aren't we a nation that is out of control when it comes to lawsuit? So if you open the door in the case of being able to sue a judge, who is going to police what's considered a frivolous lawsuit and which one has merit?
ZERMAN: Well, the Constitution starts out, "We the people." I agree with you that we have got a government that's largely out of control, a legal system that's largely out of control. It's about nine times bigger than it should be.
Look at the recent hearings with Justice Roberts.
WHITFIELD: Well, I was talking about lawsuits being out of control, the filing of lawsuits.
ZERMAN: Well, why didn't they ask Justice Roberts, aren't we supposed to have a limited government? He would have to say, under our Constitution, yes. The follow-up question would be, well, what happened?
WHITFIELD: All right.
Mr. Gary Zerman, thanks so much.
Kendall Coffey, I want to bring you into this equation. Maybe you can help answer the question of why even have judicial immunity?
KENDALL COFFEY, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, this goes all the way back to merry old England, Fredricka. It's one of the most basic things in the system. In this country, it was established right after the Civil War in connection with the trial of one of the alleged accomplices in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Why have it? Because we've got to have judges focus on their work in a courtroom as judges, not being hauled into a courtroom as defendants, not being threatened by the possibility of a lawsuit.
The distraction potential is nothing short of chaotic. Consider, for example, there are two million people in America's prisons right now. How many of them think they got a fair shake from the judge? How about all the people that lose in civil lawsuits every day?
So if there's anything that would increase moral litigation, subject us to avalanches and flood tides beyond imagination, it's opening the door to suing judges whenever we disagree with what they do.
WHITFIELD: Is not the appellate court system in place in which to try to challenge, perhaps, a judgment coming from a case you're involved in?
COFFEY: Absolutely. And in fact, everyone has an absolute right to go to the appeals court, different judges who had nothing to do with the trial court process, to get a fair shake if there had been significant mistakes. One of the realities is people in this country do not have a good feeling or understanding of what happens in the appeals process. There aren't reality or daytime TV shows that talk about appellate courts. And I think if there was a better understanding of the vital role of appellate courts, there might be a recognition that we don't really need to solve any frustrations with the legal system by declaring open season on our judges.
WHITFIELD: So being able to sue a judge might obviate the need altogether to even have an appellate courts?
COFFEY: Well, originally, before you had appellate courts, going back centuries, that's when they allowed people to sue judges. Once you have appellate judges, very responsible, different, independent from the trial court situation, you've got a real safeguard. And, of course, in many cases you go beyond the intermediate appellate court and you can go all the way to a state or a federal supreme court.
The bottom line is, do we want our judges deciding cases in the courtroom or being distracted by all the time they have to spend as defendants? There's probably enough litigation in this country already. We'll see what the people of South Dakota have to say about it.
WHITFIELD: Where do you see this potential going potentially in South Dakota?
COFFEY: Well, if they've got enough signatures, it could get on the ballot. Now, it's a pretty convoluted proposal. And I can see all kinds of legal challenges to the technical sufficiency of the proposal itself, which, of course, would be decided by judges.
WHITFIELD: All right. Kendall Coffey, thank you so much.
And Gary Zerman, thank you for your input as well.
And we'll be right back with more of CNN LIVE TODAY.
WHITFIELD: And this just in. This live picture now of a small aircraft which reportedly has some landing gear problems flying in the Atlanta area. And the airstrip that is preparing for any kind of potential landing involving this place -- this plane would be the Charlie Brown Airport, which is a smaller, Fulton County airport there in the Atlanta area. We're going to keep a close watch on developments here.
This live picture coming from our affiliate WAGA involving a small aircraft with landing gear problems. That's all we know right now. But we'll keep monitoring that situation.
Meantime, let's check in with Chad Myers in the weather center.
WHITFIELD: Miles O'Brien, who flies planes as well, is on the line with us now.
And Miles, as you look at this picture of this small plane reportedly with some landing gear problems, take us through, you know, what is going through the mind of a pilot about now, when you radio in and have some complications. What's going on?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, if you're doing your job as a pilot, just about everything you do is reduced to a checklist. And there's a checklist that' is associated with this particular scenario.
I can't make out the airplane. So I can't quote you chapter and verse. But generally what I'll tell you is this, when the landing gear doesn't go down, there's a whole procedure to check your circuit breakers to see if in fact there is some way to reset the electrical hydraulic system which brings the gear into place.
And then once you go through that troubleshooting procedure, you get into the position of having to go to the backup, which is some sort of hand crank, hand pump system which allows that landing gear to go down.
There's two types of scenarios here. There's landing gear which just won't go at all. And that would imply some kind of electrical or perhaps a hydraulic failure of some kind. And the other scenario is, when you put the gear down, it seems as if things are working, but you have little lights which indicate to you that the landing gear is down and locked.
And those are little green lights. And when you have landing gear, you have two main landing gear, one at the nose. If you don't get three greens, that means that something happened on the way down. And maybe the landing gear is completely locked and loaded, so to speak.
And so, along with that, there's another series of checklists, because you can get a green light -- or, excuse me, you can get a situation where you don't have a green light, and yet the gear is in place. And so you have to troubleshoot the light bulb.
So you will swap out a good working green light bulb into the place that's not operating, see if that light bulb is green. On and on this whole scenario goes. And what is at the back of your mind as you're doing this is your fuel consumption, how much fuel do you have onboard, how much time do you have to troubleshoot the problem?
So that's -- that's the scenario that a pilot is presented with. Ultimately, you know, if you can't get the landing gear down, the decision might be made to bring it down on its belly, which happens and happens without great injury frequently. It certainly causes a great problem to the airplane.
WHITFIELD: And Miles, is there a standard upon which a discovery might be made about this landing gear as you come in for a landing? How far out might you be from your landing strip when you make this kind of discovery? O'BRIEN: Well, you're usually a couple miles away from the runway, if you're flying an instrument approach. You put the landing gear down in what's called the outer marker, which is a few miles from the threshold of the runway. That's typical procedure.
Down come the gear. You do your crosscheck. Uh-oh, no three greens as you're looking for, as they say. Or you get -- you get maybe one that's out.
And then you abort the approach at that point, because you're not going to continue down toward the runway. And you begin that troubleshooting process, all the while talking to the controllers. Either at that point they probably would have been talking to the control tower there at Fulton County Airport.
WHITFIELD: OK. And Miles, let me just interrupt you for a moment because we have a new development in the case of the prison escapees out of Iowa.
Well, apparently, officials are now saying that one of the escapees that you're seeing, the man on the right, actually, Martin Moon, has been captured. Now, what had taken place earlier in the week, these two apparently had actually scaled one of the prison walls there and managed to escape, get away in a vehicle as well. And many of the people in the area had been fearing for their lives.
We heard that from a number of the interviews that our reporter Keith Oppenheim was able to get.
Well, now we have since learned from the officials that one of the two prison escapees is now in custody, and the governor of Iowa is expected to make some comments on this momentarily. And when we do get that, we'll be bringing that to you here.
Now, Miles, if you're still on the line with us, you're doing a great job of explaining for us what -- how this discovery of a landing gear problem might take place. How far out from your landing location, involving this small plane that we are watching now in the Atlanta area as it is apparently on approach to the Charlie Brown airstrip in Fulton County, Atlanta.
So Miles, why don't you pick it up from where you were.
O'BRIEN: Well, yes. I was going to pull up the approach place to give you some specifics. But generally speaking, a couple of miles from the threshold of the runway. It's one of the -- it begins what's called the final approach, is when the landing gear goes down and puts some flaps in to change the aircraft so that it's flying a lot slower. You want to land at the slowest possible speed that's using the least amount of runway.
As you can see from that diagram there, there are two long intersecting runways there at Fulton County Airport. One is virtually east to west, Runway 8 to 26. That's about 5,800 feet. More than a mile long. And then the other one, which goes northwest to southeast, 14 and 33, it's a little shorter. It's a 4,100-foot runway. So depending on the wind conditions there today, I'd be willing to venture to guess that they'll be aiming for that longer runway. I think as you look at the end there, it's hard for me to make out which runway that is based on this diagram. Looks like that might be runway 32 there. Yes, it is, 32. So you're looking off into the northwest there. There's the control tower, mid-right part of your screen there, and then the other runway is up on the top part of your screen. It's going up. On the left part of your screen would be runway eight. In other words, you're looking to the north here. So if you were to come in that way, if it would be to the east, and vice versa to the left.
So basically runway choice in this case would have a lot to do with what the wing conditions were in that case. But all things being equal, you want to go for a longer runway, just to give yourself a little more leeway.
Meantime, Fulton County Airport is, you know, it's a fully staffed, operational tower at all times, has the ability to respond with emergency equipment, very close to downtown Atlanta. So there's plenty of support there, so for pilots trying to make a decision about whether he has to finally fly in, or whether she has to fly in with the gear up, this would be a perfectly suitable place to do that.
WHITFIELD: And you know, Miles, we're talk about the wind conditions, and maybe we can get Chad to weigh in, when he's prepared on that, to talk about the wind conditions. He said it was a clearly sky there in the Atlanta area. So those conditions seem fine, but as you say, the wind conditions will determine which runway, potentially, this pilot may be able to use.
Now, Miles, how about you mentioned on an emergency landing some of the scenarios, one of them including actually landing on the belly. What might be other potential scenarios that this airport is equipped to do? Or help carry out?
O'BRIEN: Well, yes, I mean, one of the big misconceptions which people, from watching perhaps a few too many movies, although I guess maybe years ago they did try to do this, was they'd foam the runway. They don't foam the runways. There is no -- it's not an efficient thing to do for one thing, because you can't precisely predict where the plane is going to hit the runway and whether that's an effective way.
So generally what happens is if in fact a decision is made to do a belly landing, the pilot comes down. At a certain point, he cuts off the power, cuts off the fuel supply, feathers the props, which means if there are propellers, if it's not a jet, those props aren't spinning when they hit the ground, and down it would come as slowly and gradually as you could possibly make it. The idea there is to land absolutely at what they call stall speed, which is the speed at which the plane stops flying, and that's as slow as it could be.
WHITFIELD: Miles, let me interrupt you for a moment there. I want to just take it back to a breaking story now, the Iowa prison escapees. One of the two escapees has been captured according to officials there. Martin Moon, the other man on the left-hand side of your screen, Legendre, he is still apparently on the loose, but Martin Moon has been captured. We don't know the circumstances as to how he was captured. We only know that earlier in the week, these two apparently broke out of the prison there in Iowa, managed to actually scale the wall, because you're looking at, that one shot was the prison watch tower. Apparently because of budget cuts a few -- a ways back, no longer is that prison watch tower actually manned. They only rely on the wall and apparently the barbed wire on top in order to help to keep a close watch on the perimeter of that prison. And somehow these two escapees, or prison inmates, were able to actually scale the wall and actually get away.
Well, now, a few days later, we have reports now that Martin Moon, one of the inmates, has since been captured. They're waiting to hear from the governor to help explain, in part, how the capture took place and where some of the gaping holes are in the prison system, or at least in that particular facility as to how these two managed to get out.
So, again, when we get more information on how Martin Moon was captured, we'll be bringing that to you.
Meantime, earlier, Keith Oppenheim helped explain the scenario here and how it even came to this, and here's his report.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two convicts may be on the loose somewhere in this idyllic town, Fort Madison, Iowa. Convicts eluding police after escaping from the state prison here on Monday. And people who live here are scared.
RICK BERRY, FORT MADISON RESIDENT: These guys have nothing to lose. So it's a great possibility that if they were cornered they could hurt someone.
OPPENHEIM: Schools were locked down and residents were locking their doors, too. Trudy Eid has seven children.
TRUDY EID, FORT MADISON RESIDENT: They're a little scared. My oldest one got -- was in lockdown for about five hours yesterday. So he was -- he was a little freaked out with that one yesterday.
Police say 34-year-old Martin Shane Moon and 27-year-old Robert Joseph Legendre scaled a wall and escaped Monday from the Iowa State Penitentiary. Moon has been serving a life sentence for murdering his roommate in Iowa 15 years ago. Legendre was doing life for the kidnapping and attempted murder of a female taxi cab driver in Las Vegas. He was transferred to Iowa last year.
Authorities say the men had been working in a prison furniture shop and used upholstery webbing to scale the wall. Investigators believe that one of them stole a bicycle, then rode it to this Fort Madison neighborhood about a mile and a half away. (on camera): Police say a 1995 gold Pontiac Bonneville was outside on the street. No one was in it, but it was running because the owner of that vehicle made a quick stop at a friend's house. Detectives say the escapees, Moon and Legendre, left in that car. And the question is, why hasn't that vehicle been spotted since?
GENE MEYER, IOWA CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIV.: I would have though we might have had sighted the vehicle by now. We haven't.
OPPENHEIM: The search for the escapees has gone nationwide. Meanwhile, some Iowa lawmakers say the prison wasn't secure. State Senator Gene Fraise says, "Budget cuts led to installing security wires rather than manning all watch towers at all times." The tower near the southwest wall was unmanned when Moon and Legendre scaled the wall there.
GENE FRAISE (D), IOWA STATE SENATE: If we had had someone in those towers, the chance of them getting over the wall was about a chance of winning the lottery.
OPPENHEIM: Authorities keep warning the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they will do anything to keep from returning to the penitentiary.
OPPENHEIM: The escapees could be armed and dangerous.
Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Fort Madison, Iowa.
OPPENHEIM: Fredricka, I'm joining you live from the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. We're just getting confirmation that Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa has confirmed that Martin Shane Moon, one of the escapees, has been caught in Randolph, County, Illinois. Looking at the map, that's about 115 miles from here, from where he escaped.
Quick recap on the information that you reported earlier, KSDK, television station in St. Louis, was reporting on their Web site just in the last half hour or so that Moon was caught in Randolph County. That police had gone up to his vehicle. There was a pursuit, a short pursuit, after which moon apparently got out of the vehicle he was in, went into the woods, and he was captured by police, but that means that Robert Legendre, Robert Joseph Legendre, the other escapee, still has not been caught.
We're getting all this information just in the last few moments here. But again, the governor has confirmed what KSDK was reporting -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And, Keith, do officials have any idea or reason to believe that these two inmates were at least together for a good part of the time before they were able to at least apprehend Moon?
OPPENHEIM: Well, as we started our reporting on this, they said they weren't sure. The investigators from the Division of Criminal Investigation in Iowa thought that the two had definitely developed some kind of relationship, certainly enough to make their escape together from the penitentiary, but whether they would stay together or split, they weren't sure. It seems obvious that they did split at some point. But whether or not Moon would know where Legendre is, of course, the key question at this point, and something that you would think investigators would focus on right away.
WHITFIELD: And what kind of distance are we talking about Fort Madison, Iowa to Randolph County, Illinois?
OPPENHEIM: Well, I'm making my Rand Mcnally quick assessment from a map I have with me. It looks like it's about 150 miles.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Keith Oppenheim for that report from Fort Madison, Iowa, where officials there are reporting that one of the two inmates who escaped has been apprehended. The search is still on for the other person. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: More now on this small plane that we're watching in the Atlanta area, reportedly with landing gear problems. Right now it is circling around the Fulton County Charlie Brown airport. Because just moments ago, we also witnessed that it did try to make an attempted landing. You're going -- you're about to see tape there of a touch and go landing. Apparently there's still a problem with the landing gear.
Miles O'Brien, our Miles O'Brien, is also a pilot in his spare time, and Chad Myers is in the weather center with an overview of the weather conditions.
And Miles, let's bring you in more immediately here. We're looking at this touch and go. What do you suppose is happening? We're hearing possibly one part of the landing gear is operable, the other is not.
O'BRIEN: Here's my guess on it, just watching it. I'm trying to see. It looks like the right main landing gear -- that's the one that goes in the wing -- yes, that's pretty clear now. The right main landing gear has not fallen into place, so to speak. So what you have, apparently, is a down and locked left main and down and locked nose wheel.
But this is one of the case where's two out of three is bad. And so what they will be trying to do right now, as we look at some live pictures, I think if you put that up, if you look very closely, it's hard to tell. I see two protrusions from the bottom of the aircraft there. That could be the nose wheel and the main, or it could be that the pilot has gone through the troubleshooting process that I was talking about a little bit ago in order to manually retract the landing gear.
This scenario right now is not a good scenario. You remember the JetBlue case a little while ago...
O'BRIEN: ... with that sideways airbus nose wheel.
O'BRIEN: That's -- that was actually, we'll put it this way, a more benign situation for a pilot because both main landing gear were down. Having one main landing gear, the one underneath the wing, and one down and one up is not a great situation.
And I think we all can sort of understand that by common sense. That because the scenario is, you're coming down, you land, the right wing would tip. And it's very easy to get into a situation where the other wing drops down and there's a spin and things could get out of control very quickly.
WHITFIELD: As we were looking at the tape for a minute, it was very encouraging, because it looked like, OK, in for a smooth landing right in the center of the runway there. But you never saw the nose go down. And if you could get inside the mind of that pilot, you were seeing that nose just barely get in closer and then suddenly it lifts off again.
And you know, Chad Myers is keeping an eye on the weather conditions. Chad, you had mentioned earlier, clear skies. But Miles also underscored the importance of the wind conditions. So can you, you know, weigh in on what kind of wind conditions are out there?
MYERS: Yes, the winds are about eight miles, Fredricka. But what I have, Miles, this is for you. Tail number N-86TR left Savannah about 9:57 this morning. It's a Beechcraft 100 King Air twin turbo prop. How does that help you decide what this guy's going to do?
O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, he -- there -- I do know that the Beechcraft King Air has a manual system for putting that landing gear down. And -- so that process is underway as we speak, as we look at these live pictures from our affiliate WAGA. And we thank them for that.
As he flies around, he's troubleshooting that thing, including running through the possibility of actually retracting the two gear that are operative. Because it would be preferable to do a belly landing in this case than it would to land with two out of three for reasons that should be obvious to us all. But you want a symmetric situation.
MYERS: It almost looked like he was trying to bounce the plane on the ground a couple of times. Could that be trying to dislodge that right landing gear? Will that happen? Will that ever happen?
O'BRIEN: Oh, yes, that's quite possible that a little bounce that would take a gear that is almost at the point of locking into place and -- you know, imagine people who deal with card tables or folding tables. It's kind of like that, you know, when you're trying to get the legs pulled out from a card table and get them just in place. And if it's just at that point before it locks in, it's not going to support the weight.
But the minute you kind of bounce it and play with it a little bit, that thing is hard as a rock. That's the scenario you're dealing with there. So one of the things they would do for troubleshooting would be just that. I wasn't able to see if there was even a partial extension of that landing gear. I didn't see...
MYERS There wasn't, Miles. There wasn't anything out, no. It wasn't out at all.
O'BRIEN: So that was part of his -- You know, of course, he can't see down there. He doesn't have the ability to do that. He can make a low pass to the tower, have them take a look with some binoculars and so forth. But in the final analysis, the pilot is going to do what he has to do to try to get that landing gear down. The scenario here -- and I think this tape we're watching now is -- is that the file footage?
MYERS: Yes, that's when he tried to bounce it. He hit it there...
O'BRIEN: OK, this is the (INAUDIBLE) scenario.
MYERS: ... and then he bounced it again.
O'BRIEN: Give it a little bounce. You notice he never goes down on the nose wheel. He's obviously being ginger about it, trying to -- sort of exploring to see if he has a main landing gear on the right side. Oh, no, it's not there.
WHITFIELD: And then all of this, while he's also calculating how much runway he's got left...
O'BRIEN: Yes, that's what...
WHITFIELD: ... before lifting back up again.
O'BRIEN: By the way, I should tell you, I can tell by -- because I've flown in and out of there quite a bit -- that runway he's on is the east/west runway, eight and 26, because it's got the new asphalt there. That is the longer of the two runways. The winds there are coming out of the northwest to west primarily. I think Chad can check me on that.
So runway 26, which is dead into the west, practically, was the active runway prior to all this happening. That's good for the pilot. That gives him an extra 1,000 feet or so compared to the other runway. Because you want to have, Fred, as you point out -- especially as you're trying to bounce down a runway and trying to dislodge a landing gear -- you want to make sure you have plenty of space.
The interesting thing is that, you know, the bouncing scenario that we're talking about, you see pilots try it, but it's not one of those things that ever really works. But you got to try all these things.
I remember years ago, there was a Piper Arrow down in Florida had a similar scenario. It had a main landing gear that was partially down. And they flew down as slow as they could, say about 80, 90 miles an hour, they had a guy with a convertible to rendezvous on the runway with him.
MYERS: I remember this.
O'BRIEN: You remember this?
MYERS: Yes, I do.
O'BRIEN: He reached up, and he pulled down -- he yanked on that landing gear, locked it in place, and they landed safely. I don't think that's going to happen in this particular scenario, but there are any number of ways to solve problems in aviation. You have to be resourceful in these cases.
WHITFIELD: Hey, in a case like this, Miles, with this kind of plane, from what we know about it, single pilot or might this person have a co-pilot?
O'BRIEN: Well, this is legal for -- of course, it depends on the way they're being used and if it's a charter operation and the rules of a charter operation. There's a lot of scenarios. Still trying to get the information on the registration.
MYERS: It's a group. It's a group out of Atlanta. This plane was built in 1977. The JRT Group is actually the owner of the plane, or at least the register of the plane on the FAA Web site.
O'BRIEN: OK, so it's not in a charter operation. And that would indicate to me that it's quite possible it is legal to fly this particular aircraft with one pilot. So that could be the case. A lot of times,, depending on how it's used, companies, you know, would insist on a second pilot a lot of times. There's plenty of hungry pilots looking to build some time on a King Air. It would be easy to put somebody in that right seat. So it might very well be the case that they have two pilots.
This is a scenario where you'd really like to have a little bit of help running through all the scenarios, bouncing things off people, just making sure you're keeping the thing -- you know, one of the things they tell you when you're training is the first thing you do when you're in an emergency is fly the airplane.
There are many accidents that occur when pilots get so absorbed in the troubleshooting process, they forget to fly the airplane and then, as a result, crash because they're not paying attention to the basics. And so that's one of the things you got to think about.
WHITFIELD: And, Miles, you know, you talked about fuel. You know, if you were in this person's shoes, you'd be thinking about and watching that fuel gauge. And as we watch this plane have to circle around while it's troubleshooting, et cetera, and this might be a reach, but in the case of running low on fuel, is this the kind of plane that could in some way be utilized like a glider for a glider- type landing if it came to that?
O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, every airplane has the ability to glide somewhat, you know, some better than others. And the Beechcraft King Air, I don't know the glide ratio off the top of my head, but certainly you could do what we call in the business is a "dead stick" landing. That's probably an unfortunate term when you're talking about something like this today. But the scenario exists that if, in fact, it came down to that, they could certainly glide it in.
I suspect, once again, hearkening back to what I'm talking about on flying the airplane first, the crash that I was kind of thinking about, there was an L-10-11 flown by Eastern many years ago in Miami. And this is an airplane that they were troubleshooting a landing-gear problem, and they had three pilots onboard, and eventually, the plane crashed because they weren't paying attention. So it actually was immortalized in movies. They had it on autopilot, and the autopilot got knocked off. They were so absorbed in the landing-gear problem that they didn't notice that the plane was headed right down to the swamp.
WHITFIELD: And now, I don't know if you're looking at you're monitor, but we're seeing, you know, the wings tipping back and forth. Is that something to be alarmed about? Or is that fairly normal?
O'BRIEN: No, I mean, it's possible -- let's go back to that scenario where, let's assume for a moment, they're doing a manual extension of the gear, and you know, for whatever reason the pilot doesn't have it on autopilot. That's actually requires a fair amount of physical work, and he might just be rocking the wings because he's not paying as close attention to keeping those wings level. That could be one scenario. And also it could be possible that he's thinking, maybe I can jiggle it into the locked position. Like I say, when you're in a situation like this, you tend to become very creative on possible solutions that could get you out of it.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Miles, you talked about the three lights, the three green lights that you wait for, the three green lights, the left, the right main and then the front. Are those the three lights?
O'BRIEN: Yes, you want those three greens on there. It's interesting, that whole scenario I was telling you about, with that Eastern L-10-11, It turned out it was a bad light bulb, a bad light bulb. That's what ultimately -- and that is one of the things you're supposed to troubleshoot. I had a plane, a Beechcraft, as a matter of fact, a single engine cousin to this airplane, called a Bonanza. And one of the scenarios on the checklist, one of the first things you do, if you don't get a green, is you take a known operating bulb. That is one that is shining green and change it out into the socket that is not lit.
MYERS: While you're flying?
O'BRIEN: While you're flying. And you just -- it's not that hard to do. As a matter of fact, most of these situations are set up to do just that. A lot of times you'll have a spare bulb onboard just to do that, so can you see if in fact it's as simple as, you know, a dollar light bulb that is causing you the problem.
WHITFIELD: And, Miles, as we're watching these live pictures, let's underscore that there is a three-second delay on these images, just for precautionary reasons.
And let me ask you, this plane as we know is circling and likely to utilize the Fulton County Airport. It's just a few miles away from Jackson, Atlanta's Jackson Hartsfield Airport. Might there be a scenario where, because of the emergency situation with this plane or perhaps the Fulton County Airport is not equipped for a certain type of landing, that they may shift gears and decide to land at the larger, more significant Jackson Hartsfield Airport.
O'BRIEN: No, I think that's unlikely. For one thing, can you imagine the problem that would cause? The ripple effect of that would be tremendous. You know, that's the busiest airport in the world, depending on when you look into it, or the second busiest. And to shut that airport down for this King Air wouldn't be warranted. I mean, the runways there are twice as long, but this King Air doesn't need that kind of space anyway.
So the situation there in Fulton County is perfectly acceptable. There's plenty of support there for them. There is a crash crew. They would have a truck with foam and they would be able to -- they would be down the runway, waiting for it to stop and hose it down as soon as it got down, if in fact it came down to some sort of belly landing.
MYERS: Miles, a couple of questions for you. It's been flying around, left Savannah, supposedly at 9:57 a.m. That's almost two hours ago. How much fuel can this thing hold? How long can they go?
O'BRIEN: I don't know the exact range off the top of my head.
MYERS: We don't know if it was full.
O'BRIEN: It depends. Here's the drill. If you're flying on an instrument flight rule plan, which is probably likely in this scenario, though not necessary, it's beautiful VFR weather, as you would point out, in other words, can you see out the window. If the pilot was flying on an instrument flight plan, which is typical for a plane of this size, especially, the rules are you need to be able to get to your destination, plus an hour of reserve, plus 45 minutes in order to get to your alternate airport. So in theory, this pilot has -- getting close to two hours to play with here of fuel in order to go through this scenario.
That's part of why you take off with a healthy reserve of fuel. You know, in a situation, Beach King Air, it depends on how many people they had on board, they might have just topped the tanks off if they were empty and cankered the fuel, as we say, to the airport. It might have been cheaper to buy it in Savannah. It's difficult to say how long it is. I'm going to try to pull up the range. One thing that might be happening, one possibility, is they might want to -- I think this is probably a likely scenario right now. You have the ability to select fuel tanks. They're in the wing. If I were this pilot, I would be burning from the right wing where I've got the problem. If there's a place where you don't want fuel it's on that wing that you might land on if you decide to land. If for some reason you can't get the other gear retracted or if you make the decision that it might be safer to land on two out of three, you probably would not want to have fuel in that right wing, keep the fuel out of harm's way so to speak.
MYERS: Miles, I have a picture of the plane here. It says that the capacity can be eight to ten. Looks like I have three seats in the back and there are two -- there's a pilot and a do-pilot seat. These things are always set up differently for private corporations, right?
O'BRIEN: Yes. There's any number of ways to configure a cabin that way. It just depends on what its usage is, how much luggage they like to bring. Any number of scenarios. That is impossible to predict. We have no way of knowing. If we can pull up the flight plan, we can find out how many people are on board. Assuming they followed the flight plan and, like I say, that's probably likely in this scenario, although not mandatory.
MYERS: How would we do that?
O'BRIEN: Well, we can pull up -- if we can get the flight explorer going, Chad.
MYERS: I have that actually pulled up here at a time.
O'BRIEN: If you can get flight explorer going -- if you want to plug in that tail number for us, we might be able to get more information about it. And we might be able to just track it on radar as well and get its radar track. That would give us that scenario. As far as giving specific information about the pilot, that's not on the flight explorer. That is not out of the public domain. The tail number is.
MYERS: The tail number -- we know the tail number.
O'BRIEN: The equipment -- the type of equipment, the basic ownership scenario is out there, but the actual people on board, typically wouldn't be on the flight plan, necessarily. It would be in the flight plan for the FAA. We wouldn't be able to get ahold of it.
MYERS: I'm curious, because we probably watched this for hours a couple weeks ago, the large plane, the jet that had the nose wheel problem. What's the biggest problem? Is it usually the main gear or the nose? Is it 50/50?
O'BRIEN: That's -- you know, there's no way to give you a statistical reason for this. It just depends. That airbus thing was kind of a fluke. And it really was traced back probably to some maintenance issues. When you look at all these things, you know, there's often a maintenance issue that is at the root of this.
A lot of times you get a -- as we said the failure of a single light bulb could cause a problem. A lot of times you get hydraulic failures, hydraulic fuel tends to leak here and there. So that can affect any of the gear -- equally. And then you can get into a situation where you have a complete electrical failure because it is obviously an electrical engine with a hydraulic assist. And that can make it impossible for the gear to come down. There are all kinds of backups for that as well.
MYERS: So, it's an electrical motor that pumps some type of gear fluid, some type of fluid into an assist to push this thing down. Is that how that works?
O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes. The hydraulic -- you know -- well, the hydraulics work basically -- it's just basically fluid under pressure which, you know, gives you a little more purchase on something. It makes an electrical motor work a lot less harder to do the same amount of work. And, you know, gaining leverage on it.
And so the combination of those two systems are what bring the landing gear down on a plane like this. And so, either system, you know, could be at root in this one. This might be, you know, an outright mechanical failure, seeing as we have two other gear down and locked.
MYERS: I see.
O'BRIEN: By the way, a friend of mine who has giving me some information on this airline pilot has been doing some work for me here as I've been speaking. He says the range on that full -- with full fuel, the range on that aircraft, about 1,200 nautical miles, four to five hours if they topped it off.
And we will try to figure that out. What did you say? What time did they leave Savannah, Chad?
MYERS: About 9:57 in the morning.
MYERS: So that's two hours into -- potentially, you know, this could go on for as much as two and a half more hours, maybe three hours. Potentially, if that -- if they couldn't come up with a solution, they'd still have the fuel to stay alive. Assuming they left with full tanks.
Once again, that -- there's a whole scenario pilots go through on weights and balance issues. And if they have a full airplane, it's very likely that they didn't take off with all that fuel on board.
MYERS: Yes, we are seeing now -- I did call up the FAA Web site, like you said. There are 11 seats on the plane, Miles. And also, it just got its -- its last action taken on 10/24, October 24. And that's when the certification was issued for that plane.
So, it looks like it went through the whole nine yards just about, what, 25 days go?
O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes. Well, that's -- you know, it's interesting. I should tell you that many pilots would tell you that one of their most white-knuckle flights is the first flight after a whole bunch of maintenance has been done to an airplane, because, you know, you take a perfectly good airplane, you put it in the shop, and they rip it apart, look for problems, try to anticipate, fix problems, and put it all back together.
Well, I mean, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that that in some ways -- statistically, it increases your chance of things going wrong if the bolts aren't put all on the right way. You know, and, you know, the mechanics who do these are, you know, very highly skilled, and they sign off on practically every move they make.
But, nonetheless, maintenance just by the nature of what they do, maintenance can cause problems as well. And so that's interesting that it's had a fresh annual, if you will. Or, in this case, depending on how it's used, every 100 hours or so it can go through a thorough inspection depending on the scenario.
WHITFIELD: I just want to interject, gentlemen, while we're watching this now at the top of the hour, about two hours ago, we believe, Chad, according to your information, that this small aircraft left the Savannah Airport and has been making its way there to Atlanta's Fulton County Charlie Brown Airport. But reportedly, there are some landing gear problems.
And Miles, you've done a great job explaining that it appeared from one of the approaches when we were watching this small aircraft that the right main landing gear was not coming down all the way. We saw a touch and go of this pilot attempting a landing, perhaps bouncing on the runway to true to loosen that other wheel.
It didn't. So it took off, and we've been watching this plane just circling here. And we're hoping that whatever problem that it is experiencing, that things will be straightened out and it will eventually make a safe landing there at the Charlie Brown Airport in Fulton County.
And Miles, as an experienced pilot, you know, you really can get into the mind of what this pilot might be experiencing now two hours after taking off for a flight that should have been a relatively short -- short one. Now it's being elongated into two hours here.
What likely is going through the mind of this pilot, even as you talk about all the troubleshooting that he or she has been doing, and at the same time focusing on flying this plane?
O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, I think you're in a situation where you are task saturated, if you will. And so what happens in these scenarios, it's a lot like any of us being in situations which you're sort of reacting and focused. And afterwards, you say, holy cow, that was a close call.
That's probably very much going through this pilot's mind right now, working the problem. Work the problem, work the problem, try to figure out scenarios.
Now, as you look at this shot, Fredricka, this is significant.
MYERS: His gear's up, Miles.
O'BRIEN: The landing gear is up. The landing gear is up.
Now maybe he has made -- he or she, I should say -- they have made the decision on board that the best way to end this safely, as safe as possible for the occupants, not so great for the hull of the aircraft or the engines, for that matter, is to do a belly landing. But he could also very well have retracted that gear and is now beginning the process of going through the manual extension of the gear, which is a whole different scenario, which in some planes, on the plane, it would be -- the plane I flew, the Bonanza, you crank it.
I'm not sure if this is a pump scenario. I cannot recall off the top of my head. But the point is, it involves some actual work where the pilot is pushing or cranking in order to bring that landing gear down. It takes -- I believe it is a hand pump.
WHITFIELD: Is that a case when you really do need a second pilot, or would you do this as an individual pilot?
O'BRIEN: Well, it would help. It would help. I mean, but this is a scenario where you could -- they could clear some airspace for you, you could set the auto pilot on -- you know, straight and level flight into a certain direction, and you could start doing your work. You know, sort of get your aerobic activity under way.
And that certainly would help if he was alone. If he had another pilot, of course the pilot could do that as well.
But right now, it's interesting. It seems as if they're getting closer. I wish we could hear the air traffic control frequencies, but it seems as if -- I'm sort of getting the sense here he may have made the decision that the thing to do here is do a belly landing.
WHITFIELD: And we are seeing on the right-hand side of the screen those emergency vehicles seemingly getting prepared for what potentially could be just that at Charlie Brown Airport in Fulton County.
O'BRIEN: Yes, it looks like they're proceeding.
You know, on his side here he's got a lot of things going for him, and that's, you know, part of what he's doing either consciously or subconsciously. He's got good weather, he's got winds that are pretty favorable right down the so-called center line of the airport. He's got a field there with plenty of crash support, as you just witnessed, ready to support him. He's got a nice long runway. And he's got time on his hands. We don't know precisely how much fuel he has, but, you know, it's safe to say, certainly if he was following the FAA guidelines, we know he has at least an hour and 45 minutes to play with. And possibly a lot more than that.
So he's got a lot going on his side here. And so that -- you know, that's what you always want. You always want time to solve a problem, solve the problem, and as I said, keep flying the airplane all the while.
Then, you know, make the decision as to what makes the most sense. And, you know, I've got to tell you, if I was in this situation, and I only had two out of three landing gear, I would say I would forsake the engines. In other words, forget that notion of trying to save one engine by trying to land on two out of three. I would come down and do the belly landing, which may be what we're going to see right now.
WHITFIELD: OK. We're descending here.
O'BRIEN: Yes. The trick right here is, one of the things to consider here is, typically, when you're landing, you rely on your landing gear to provide induced drag. And so the airplane handles differently.
And you have to slow down in other ways. And so the pilot is doing something that is slightly unfamiliar to him, because he's used to coming down at this altitude at this speed toward the runway with that gear hanging out there slowing him down.
So he's doing something he's not -- you know, he might have done a simulator run on this every now and again, or might have done a low pass like this. And let's watch and see how he comes down.
Now, watch how he (INAUDIBLE) those props. All right. Engine stops. Very smart move.
OK. Now, hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Get it as slow as you can.
Slow it down. Slow it down. Nice and slow. Right down the center line. That is picture perfect.
WHITFIELD: Wow. That is beautiful.
MYERS: That really is a great landing.
O'BRIEN: Beautiful, beautiful job. Beautiful.
WHITFIELD: Remarkable. Wow, that's incredible piloting.
O'BRIEN: That's some hull damage. I bet those engines are not adversely impacted.
MYERS: Because the props were... (CROSSTALK)
O'BRIEN: Because did you notice how he (INAUDIBLE) those props? Those props stopped.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Wow.
O'BRIEN: And if they had been -- if they had been spinning, it would have spun those PT-6 engines, which are turbo prop engines, right off their mounts. And that would have been a big problem.
WHITFIELD: Whew. I am inhaling for them. I mean, my heart was just pitter patter, as I know everybody else's was too. Unbelievable.
O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you. That should go on his training tapes. And off he goes.
OK. One, two.
WHITFIELD: Wow. That is fast.
O'BRIEN: So he had some help there, and that's all they had aboard was the two of them.
And welcome to Fulton County Airport, gentlemen.
WHITFIELD: Either that, or everybody else on board is just catching their breath.
O'BRIEN: Oh, I suspect their instructions would have been move quickly.
WHITFIELD: It looks like that's it. Wow.
O'BRIEN: Time to get off the airplane.
MYERS: Oh, no. Here comes somebody else.
WHITFIELD: Oh, here we go. Ooh.
O'BRIEN: More people. Here they come.
Now, I'm going to guess...
O'BRIEN: There's your hero right there, folks.
WHITFIELD: Really ready to get away from this plane, huh?
O'BRIEN: That's your hero. See if you can zoom in on that, WSB. Give us a close-up.
Yes, they're shaking his hand.
WHITFIELD: And on the cell phone already. O'BRIEN: Yes.
WHITFIELD: We're safe. We made it.
O'BRIEN: That's right.
WHITFIELD: Close call.
O'BRIEN: That's a CNN producer calling him, "Can you come on live?"
WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, it's great we're able to, you know, laugh about this and everyone feel relieved for what we witnessed, some incredible piloting, some incredible decision-making. Decisions that you were able to kind of play out for us, Miles, just presuming what sort of scenarios they were entertaining.
And the emergency crews on the ground. And Chad being able to give us an idea what kind of weather conditions and exactly what kind of aircraft we're dealing with, and it's origination of Savannah. Then making it's way into Atlanta here, circling the airport because of its landing gear.
And then here we are, playing it again on the right-hand side of your screen, this emergency belly landing which was absolutely picture perfect.
MYERS: Great job, Miles. Thank you so much for joining us today.
O'BRIEN: My pleasure.
WHITFIELD: All right, gentlemen. Thank you so much.
Chad Myers in the weather center, and Miles O'Brien on the line with us there, someone who pilots in his spare time. And we're so glad he does. Both of them able to help us ascertain what was taking place with this small aircraft, a Beechcraft King Air coming in for an emergency landing after discovering it had a problem with its landing gear.
The flight originating in Savannah, making its way to Atlanta. And now we're seeing a successful belly landing there at the Fulton County Charlie Brown Airport with -- I think we counted three, perhaps even four people who came off board. All very relieved, seemingly, because they had their bags in hand and a cell phone at the ear right away.
And you're seeing the emergency crews there, who are only having to cool down that plane. Thankfully nothing more severe taking place.
Thanks so much for joining us us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.
Now on to YOUR WORLD TODAY right after this.
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