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What Happened During the Emergency Landing at the Mallow Race Course?

It was 8:15 in the morning when Gerard Callanan witnessed the emergency landing of the Gulfstream II on the Mallow racecourse, piloted by Captain Ruben Ocaña. All the jet’s passengers had to wait 39 days as the jet’s insurers insisted on constructing a $200,000 temporary racecourse for the jet’s departure.  

When the jet’s captain and the crew landed at the Mallow racecourse, they had to wait 39 days before departing. During their stay in Mallow, they became local celebrities and even judged the Mallow beauty contest. 

The Emergency Landing

More than 35 years ago, an executive Gulfstream II twin-jet and its passengers from Newark, New Jersey, expected a safe and smooth flight to its destination in Munich, Germany. Increasingly, the flight became harder to maneuver.

As howling winds increased an hour to the estimated flight time, the fuel reserves slowly depleted. The Shannon Airport in Country Clare, Ireland, and its heavy surrounding fog caused missed approaches, leading the Gulfstream II to Cork Airport. Ruben Ocaña, the plane’s captain, acknowledged the fuel that wasn’t sufficient for their venture to Cork Airport. From there, their destination rerouted to Mallow racecourse in County Cork. When Captain Ocaña finally made his landing at eight in the morning, the left fuel only covered a short time of three minutes.

A service station owner in Mallow named Gerard Callanan recalls his experience when he witnessed the jet’s emergency landing on April 18, 1983. He further explains the state of the aircraft, stating that when the jet’s wings hit one of the concrete posts, it damaged the wing.

I was opening up the garage at the time, the next thing, I see this plane hovering around. It came around a second time, and I saw it landing… The first thing I did was to ring the gardaí … The next thing, I could see the cockpit opening and people getting out. I went over then, after a few minutes. The gardaí were arriving at that stage. When the captain of the plane came out, I said, You’re welcome to Mallow.

Gerard Callanan

(Source: Irish Examiner

The Local Celebrities and the Awaited Runway

Although most would think the emergency landing developed into a tragedy, the town warmly welcomed Captain Ocaña and three of his crew during their stay. Lloyds of London and Air Clams of America, the jet’s insurers, stood firm on their decision to install a $200,000 worth of 3,000-foot tarmacadam runway for the landed jet’s departure.

As Captain Ocaña and his crowd needed to wait 39 days before the temporary runway’s installment at the Mallow Racecourse, they became familiar with the town. Not long enough, they became celebrities in Mallow. The jet’s passengers stayed at the Central Hotel, and Captain Ocaña and his people even became the judges for the Rakes of Mallow local beauty contest.

When the day of the jet’s takeoff arrived in May 1983, it became a massive event. Numerous BTV cameras were present, and 2,000 people gathered to witness the crew’s farewell. Before they departed, Captain Ocaña made sure to talk to the locals that greeted them warmly, speaking a few words of Irish.

He flew out and came back, and flew out over the runway again to give a salute to all the people he met that time, to acknowledge the goodness he received in Mallow.

Gerard Callanan

(Source: Irish Examiner)

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