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Fri, Sep 05, 2008

Instructor Lands On NY Highway After Engine Failure

Two Students Get Firsthand Instruction On Engine-Out Procedures

"Any port in a storm," as they say... and, any suitable landing area when your engine dies. That's a lesson a 24-year-old Canadian flight instructor was able to impart to two student pilots Wednesday evening, when he safely landed their stricken Bonanza on an interstate highway in upstate New York.

The Canadian Press reports one of Michael Denning's students was at the controls on their flight from Seneca College in Toronto to Burlington, VT when he heard a 'clicking' noise coming from the engine. A check of the instruments failed to show a problem... but those clicks soon led to a loud bang, and a loss of power.

With the nearest airport about five miles away, Denning took the controls and told his students to help scout for a safe place to land. "We looked around for the most suitable landing site and we had trees, water or road to go for," Denning said.

The latter -- specifically, Interstate 87, near the town of North Hudson -- was the obvious choice, and Denning steered for the road.

The plane's engine died completely soon after... but by that point the airplane was within safe gliding distance of the highway. Two semi trucks saw the plane as it approached the highway, and stopped to allow the plane to land... also serving to stop traffic.

Denning brought the plane (file photo of type shown below) down right on the centerline... with less than three feet from wingtip to guardrail on either side. Neither he nor his students was injured, and the 1992 Beechcraft was spared as well.

"I think after anything like this you always look back afterwards and say that something that seemed to be a problem at the time really isn't a big deal anymore," Denning said. "Because you just went through something some people don't walk away from... You just react to the situation as you've been trained to do. There's not really time to panic."

Denning graduated from Seneca in April 2007, and began instructing at the school last August. John Robertson, the school's chief instructor, commended his student's performance.

"He's an excellent pilot and he's been trained to handle these types of emergencies," Robertson said.

The FAA is now working to determine why the Bonanza's engine failed.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: CGSCG        Make/Model: BE35      Description: 35 Bonanza
  Date: 09/03/2008     Time: 2038

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Minor

LOCATION
  City: SCHROON LAKE   State: NY   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT INBOUND, LOST POWER AND DECLARED MAYDAY, FORCE LANDED ON A
  HIGHWAY, 5 MILES FROM SCHROON LAKE AIRPORT, NY

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   0
                 # Pass:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   0
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: KBTV 032054Z VRB3KT 10 SCT065 CB 28/16 A2984

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Landing      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: ALBANY, NY  (EA01)                    Entry date: 09/04/2008

FMI: www.faa.gov. www.senecac.on.ca/

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