COLUMBIA, MO (May 3, 2013)
On Friday, May 3 around 9:50 am, the control tower at Columbia Regional Airport contacted Airport Public Safety and advised there was a single engine (piston driven) aircraft with two souls on board on approach to COU which had declared an emergency due to sudden and unexpected icing conditions. The pilot indicated he "hit a wall of frozen precipitation" and icing occurred suddenly without warning.
The aircraft which departed from Indianapolis IN en route to Wichita KS, was originally under the control of Mizzou Approach in Springfield MO. When the pilot declared the emergency, the pilot was placed in immediate radio contact with the control tower at COU. The control tower cleared the airspace and runway approaches and notified airport public safety and in turn Public Safety Joint Communications. Airport Public Safety vehicles Crash 10 and Crash 11 were awaiting the aircraft when it touched down on the main runway.
The pilot was able to land the aircraft safely, albeit with large chunks of ices falling from the aircraft and scattering across the runway upon touchdown.
This is the second emergency landing due to icing conditions at COU this year; both having a safe outcome.
This serves as an example of the importance of the additional safety layer the control tower at COU plays. As the largest airfield between KC and STL, Springfield and Quincy IL, COU is a safety net for aircraft during emergencies and an airport in which a staffed control tower can play a vital safety role. It is also the only airport in the area with a fully staffed Fire/Crash rescue component.