‘It was a spectacle on a levee:’ Couple who landed jet in Everglades beholden to be alive

Flight instructor Gary Solkovits was scheming to land a late troops jet during Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport when he listened an surprising noise. And then, silence.

“And we became a glider,” pronounced Solkovits, who somehow with his wife, Lois, in a chair beside him, landed a fixed-wing, single-engine jet but energy on a remote wharf in a Everglades Wildlife Management Area.

It was only before nightfall Mar 16, and a sawgrass was on glow in a distance.

Solkovits, who has also flown gliders, pronounced he had “seconds, reduction than a minute” between a engine’s disaster and a craft’s landing.

“It was smooth!” she said. “He did a many ideal landing. If we could see how tiny that small wharf was that took a outrageous jet fighter.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is still questioning a incident, a mouthpiece pronounced Thursday.

Gary Solkovits is a moody instructor and former corporate jet commander whose 15-year-old Fort Lauderdale company, Jet Fighters International, trains jet pilots and performs during atmosphere shows.

The wharf that hosted a jet — with a 30-foot wingspan, 40-foot prolonged fuselage and16-foot-high tail — forsaken off steeply in places, he said.

“If we’d landed in muck, it would have been like quicksand, and there was a 17-foot low waterway subsequent to that and afterwards sawgrass,” Solkovits said.

Before a puncture landing, a jet was on a downwind leg, headed toward a airfield. But Solkovits pronounced they were pushed distant out west to wait their turn, since there were so many planes in a alighting pattern.

Luckily they were not drifting over a residential area when difficulty began.

“It was not ideal,” Solkovits pronounced about their unpretentious runway. “It beats a alternative, put it that way. If we had pile-up landed or attempted a alighting to a south or north of a levee, nothing of them is a flattering picture.”

After 9 days resting in a Everglades, a jet was met during morning Thursday by crews from Gold Coast Heavy Hauling.

The crews left Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston and gathering 6.5 miles in retreat along a levee, north of Interstate 75 between U.S. 27 and a Sawgrass Expressway, west of Pompano Beach. In a procession were a 30-ton lorry derrick and a 48-foot prolonged Landoll trailer.

South Florida Water Management non-stop adult gates to concede a organisation to pass, pronounced Randy Seay, owners of a Opa-locka association that specializes in hauling scarcely far-reaching loads.

Mechanics distant a wings, tail and other tools of a jet; a derrick carried them onto a trailer.

“This was a initial jet we did that didn’t crash,” Seay said. “Usually we’re picking adult a pieces and it’s a unhappy job. But this was not.”

The jet, a tools resting in red frames on a trailer, was hauled to Opa-locka and was to transport Friday to a Lakeland correct trickery to be assessed and reassembled.

It’s an costly project: Hauling might cost adult to $10,000, Seay said. The check for a new engine wasn’t nonetheless known, Solkovits said.

He didn’t put a cost on their lives.

“Everybody who came out, a FAA and everybody, pronounced we were unequivocally utterly fortunate,” Solkovits said. “I demeanour during it that my training kicked in and we was blessed. Otherwise we wouldn’t be articulate to you.”

LTrischitta@Tribune.com, 954-356-4233 or Twitter @LindaTrischitta