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Fri, Jan 23, 2009

Pilot Lands C172 On Golf Course Following Engine Failure

Country Club Surrounded By Homes, Businesses

It wasn't the prettiest shot ever seen at the Prestonwood Country Club Golf Course... but for pilot Lance Sparks, it was definitely up to par.

KTXA-11 reports Sparks was flying his Cessna 172E Thursday from Paris, TX to the Dallas Air Park (F69) when the plane's engine cut out about three miles north of his destination, over the densely populated suburb of Plano. Sparks attempted to restart the motor, but it soon became clear the plane was going down.

"I just had to work with it and do what I know best about flying," Sparks said. "...You can still fly a plane without an engine, just not very far."

With his options quickly running out, Sparks set up for a steep approach onto a fairway at Prestonwood, an exclusive country club that lies right on the extended centerline to Runway 16 at the air park.

"I'm real familiar with this area and knew this area was the clearest around," the 24-year-old pilot told the Plano Courier Star. "I looked for the straightest and longest green."

After advising the tower at nearby Addison Airport (ADS) of his situation, Sparks landed the aircraft on an unoccupied tee box on a par three hole. The plane bounced onto another nearby hole, coming to rest in a sand trap just after 4:00 pm CST.

No one on the ground was injured, and Sparks walked away from the scene unharmed. "I'm not too worried about myself," Sparks said. "I'm just glad I chose an area to land and everyone was alright."

Sparks says he's been flying for about a year, and has logged 500 hours. The FAA arrived at the scene Thursday night to start its investigation.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.prestonwoodcc.org

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