Flight over fright: Dillon's daughter still wants to fly after Caroni landing

Merelle Dillon, 24, stands with her father retired cricketer Mervyn Dillon near an airplane. 

Merelle Dillon, 24, stands with her father retired cricketer Mervyn Dillon near an airplane. PHOTO COURTESY SOCIAL MEDIA - PHOTO COURTESY SOCIAL MEDIA

Retired West Indies cricketer Mervyn Dillon says he is happy his daughter, a pilot trainee, is safe, after the plane she was travelling in on Tuesday made an emergency landing in Caroni.

Dillon told Newsday on Wednesday, he does not believe the incident has discouraged her from continuing with flight lessons.

Merelle Dillon, 24, was travelling in a Diamond DA40 four-seater light airplane when it got into difficulties while trying to land at the Piarco International Airport.

The pilot, Randel James, guided the plane to a field on the Caroni River and landed it. During the landing the plane rolled into a ditch and was seriously damaged.

James and his trainee received minor injuries and were taken to the Arima Hospital where they were discharged.

The ex-fast bowler said despite the fright of the incident, his daughter was unharmed and joked that she was prepared to return to the sky.

"I'm not quite sure how I feel. Obviously I'm extremely happy she was able to walk away. It's a plane crash and it's not very often people get to walk away from plane crashes.

"She still has her rude mouth, so that means she is okay – no head damage or anything like that – but I'm just extremely happy for what happened because it could have been a whole lot worse.

"She is quite keen on continuing her training but I guess we won't know until she actually sits on a plane, but she is confident she wants to go forward and continue with what she wants to do."

Newsday also spoke to Nigel Ramsahai, head of training and director of flight operations for Aerial World Services Ltd and owner of the plane, who said the wreckage was expected to be removed on Wednesday.

"The Civil Aviation Authority has to give the authority to remove the aircraft. It's in the process of being moved; because of where it was it's taking a while to get it done and then yesterday they ran out of daylight, but it should be moved by today (Wednesday).

"It would then be brought to the company hangar and the authority would complete their investigation."

He said it was totally destroyed and a new plane will have to be bought to replace it.

A new Diamond DA40 aircraft, he said, usually costs US $600,000.

Responding to questions on the safety and reliability of the Diamond DA40 airplane, Ramsahai on Tuesday noted they were selected as the training plane for his flight school because of its safety and sturdy structure.

According to the Genesis Flight College website the Diamond DA40s are sought after for their stability in flight, referring to figures from a 2006 study where the Diamond DA20 had 10.3 mishaps – compared to 17.3 for the Cessna 172, a plane flown in comparable training missions.

Another report published by the US National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB) in 2000 in its annual review of aircraft showed that accidents are also less severe in Diamond DA40 airplanes with 85 per cent of all Diamond accidents not resulting in any injuries, compared to only 53 per cent of no-injury accidents for all General Aviation Aircraft.


"Flight over fright: Dillon’s daughter still wants to fly after Caroni landing"

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