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Mon, Jun 08, 2009

Emergency Landing Outside Atlanta

US 41 Becomes A Runway

It started out as a routine check ride, but when 30-year-old instructor pilot Mike Davidson and his student, Mallory Zackery smelled smoke in the cockpit of the Arrow 600 Sport (file photo, below) they were flying, they knew there was trouble.

Davidson contacted the tower at McCollum Field, which gave them an immediate clearance to land. They didn't make the airport. “A heartbeat after that, the engine failed,” said Davidson, a commercial airline pilot for JetBlue.

The two landed safely on the southbound lane of the busy highway. Davidson said he chose the highway after looking for a field in which to land, but didn't find anything that would workd. After landing, he and Zackery taxied the plane into the parking lot of an under-construction townhome complex. “There was a guy in a pickup truck and he had the presence to slow down and stop and the traffic behind him stopped,” Davidson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The truck driver followed the plane into the parking lot, before leaving.

Jon Hansen, owner of Hansen Air Group at McCollum Field which owns the plane, praised Davidson’s performance. “He did an excellent job of putting it down safely," Hansen said.

The incident drew a crowd. Cobb County, Georgia police and fire departments responded to the call, as did the Ackworth police department. Several passers-by stopped to take pictures of the plane in the parking lot. Local authorities said the investigation would be turned over the NTSB.

We're all taught early on how to constantly be looking for a place to land our airplanes, "just in case." Most of us are fortunate enough to never have to actually put that into practice. A story like this one serves as a reminder that just because it didn't happen last time doesn't mean the next time we fly, we won't be looking for someplace like the southbound lane of US 41.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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