Better this morning than he was yesterday at lunchtime, pilot Daniel D. Holiday told Historic City News that when his 1973 Bellanca Model 17-30A unexplainably began having engine problems on his way home to St. Augustine from the Bahamas, his years of flight training took over and he knew instinctively what he had to do.
Holiday has traveled the world — both during his military career and, as a private pilot, since locating in St. Augustine.
“I told Candy to tighten up her seatbelt over the intercom,” the 75 year-old Holiday recalled in an interview with Historic City News Editor Michael Gold this morning. “We’ve flown together many times and she wasn’t in a panic.”
Holiday explained that the emergency landing north of the Crescent Beach Ramp went as smoothly as could have been hoped for. “Neither Candy nor I was hurt, nobody on the beach was hurt, the airplane wasn’t hurt; everybody on the ground was as helpful as possible.”
Holiday says that his mechanic at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine is going over the aircraft today to try and determine why the engine suffered fuel deprivation. “We should have had enough fuel on board and we were only a few miles from the airport,” Holiday recalled.
Once they were on the ground, Holiday reported that the trooper on the scene handled everything very professionally. “There were Sheriff’s deputies and beach patrol to help if there had been any problems,” he said. “The driver from Joey’s Towing especially gets my thanks, he was able to trailer the plane quickly and get us off the beach safely.”
A couple of signs had to be moved temporarily to make room for the trailered aircraft to exit the beach access ramp; then again, at the airport, a piece of fence had to be taken down to safely clear the plane. “It was a slow, 10 MPH drive back to the airport,” Holiday told Historic City News. “I’m still trying to figure out why it ran out of gas.”
Holiday is a well-known fixture in the historic city; he has lived and worked downtown over the past fifty years. Holiday is a published author, historian and accomplished, highly sought after speaker. He began his sandal making career here at the foot of St. George Street in the mid 1960′s. Within a few years’ time, everyone who was anyone had a tracing of their feet hanging from the rafters or stapled to the walls of his leather shop across from the old city gates. He still practices leathercraft from a shop now located on Aviles Street.
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by Vanessa Baker