COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was just a few tense moments, really. The plane, a 1960 Piper PA-24, circled the runway at Columbia's Jim Hamilton - L.B. Owens Airport as the pilot spoke with crews on the ground, trying to make the right choices that would help him sit the plane down.
Crews asked him to dump fuel, but he was unable to do so, according to Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.
"He had about 3 hours of fuel left on the plane," said Jenkins.
With that amount of fuel left, decisions had to be made and maneuvers had to be perfected.
And so the pilot made several practice attempts at the runway; each time, he would pull up just before sliding the plane's belly into the ground.
Finally, around 4:40 p.m., word came that the pilot was finally ready to land the plane.
The pilot made a final circle around the airport before targeting the runway one last time. He put the plane down slowly and skidded to a stop in a grassy portion near the runway.
"He actually came down in a straight line as if he had the landing gear down," said Jenkins.
The still-unidentified pilot was uninjured.
According to the website FlightAware.com, the single-engine plane was in route to Columbia from Ft. Payne, Alabama. The plane is registered to TTIEnviromental, Inc. However, that registration shows up expired. It's not clear why the registration wasn't valid, but the FAA confirms they're looking into it.