Two Students Get Firsthand Instruction On Engine-Out
"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
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
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
BE35 Description: 35 Bonanza
Date: 09/03/2008 Time: 2038
Event Type: Incident Highest Injury:
None Mid Air: N Missing:
City: SCHROON LAKE State: NY
AIRCRAFT INBOUND, LOST POWER AND DECLARED MAYDAY, FORCE
LANDED ON A
HIGHWAY, 5 MILES FROM SCHROON LAKE AIRPORT, NY
INJURY DATA Total
# Crew: 1 Fat:
0 Unk: 0
# Pass: 2 Fat:
0 Unk: 0
Fat: 0 Ser:
WEATHER: KBTV 032054Z VRB3KT 10 SCT065 CB 28/16 A2984
Activity: Unknown Phase:
Landing Operation: OTHER
FAA FSDO: ALBANY, NY
Entry date: 09/04/2008