Saturday, March 10, 2012

Student pilot forced to make emergency landing

Student pilot Arnaud Kebaili had his training put to the test Friday afternoon when he experienced trouble with the Cessna plane he was flying and had to make an emergency landing in a field off of Midway Road.
Journal-Courier / Maria Nagle

“It’s not every day that you get a plane landing in your field,” Eric Lakin said as he looked across his landlord’s tilled field to where a Cessna 152 sat intact after making an emergency landing.

Student pilot Arnaud Kebaili managed to land the single-engine, two-seater plane safely just before 2 p.m. Friday in Marie Jackson’s bean field off of Midway Road west of Murrayville.

“I had a loss of power and the engine wasn’t running properly,” said Kebaili, 21, of St. Charles, Mo. “I had to land somewhere other than Jacksonville because I just couldn’t make it there.”

Arnaud was en route to the Jacksonville Municipal Airport.

“It was just a destination I picked. I was suppose to do a touch-and-go there and head back to St. Charles,” Kebaili said.

Kebaili had rented the plane from St. Charles Flying Service to log the 100 nautical-mile round trip toward the required flight training he needs to get a commercial pilot’s license.

“That was one of my lessons,” Kebaili said. “I’m a student pilot. I only have 28 hours on my log book. It was my fourth solo cross-country flight.”

Before taking off, he had checked the fuel level and the plane’s mechanicals and everything was all right, he said.

“Right now, I couldn’t say what happened,” Kebaili said. “I wasn’t very happy in the air when I saw the engine shutting off.”

Just as his instructor had taught him, Kebaili put the plane in glide speed, put down the flaps and took measures to make a soft field landing, he said.

“And it worked,” Kebaili said. “Everything went good. As you can see, the airplane had no damage. That’s a good point.”

A Federal Aviation Administration representative and owner of the plane were coming to the site, Morgan County Deputy Tom Keegan said.

“When they get clearance from the FAA and get it running they probably can take off here,” Keegan said. “If not, they will probably have to dismantle it and take it back to St. Charles on a trailer.”