Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Air traffic controllers help pilot land in treacherous conditions

MADISON (WKOW) -- Rapidly changing weather conditions put a local pilot in danger when he ran into some trouble in the air and an air traffic controller brought him down to safety.

 Dan Spangler, a recreational pilot from Jefferson, took off from Watertown Municipal Airport for quick flight. He says he checked the weather before he left, which appeared to be OK for flying. He was just planning to circle around and practice a landing or two, but once he got in the air he says weather conditions changed rapidly and his plane completely iced over.

Spangler was flying blind, so he called FAA air traffic control for help. Controller Jack Deutscher, stationed in Madison at Dane County Regional Airport's tower, stayed in radio communication with him for 30 minutes. He used radar to guide Spangler to a Madison runway.

"We just pointed him at the airport and then told him when to descend, when to turn and lined him right up with the runway over there," says Deutscher.

Spangler says it was a very smooth landing, despite the fact that he couldn't see out the windows. He says he's grateful for the help of air traffic control.

I don't know what would have happened if they wouldn't have been there, but thank heavens they were there," says Spangler. "It was really scary, I felt I kept pretty calm until I landed, then my hands started to shake."

Other planes were operating normally that day, but Spangler's small aircraft wasn't equipped to deal with icy conditions. He calls himself a "fair-weather flyer" so he wasn't quite prepared for it either.

Deutscher says it's the first time he's saved a distressed pilot in 12 years as a controller. As heard on the radio communication recording, both men remained extremely calm throughout the process.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Air traffic controllers help a recreational pilot land a plane, while he was flying blind for about 30 minutes.

A pilot who took off from the Watertown Municipal Airport on February 21st with plans to land right away again ran into some bad weather. His plane quickly iced up, including the entire windshield, and the pilot says he was flying completely blind. He called the airport and officials transferred his call to air traffic controllers in Madison.

For 30 minutes, an air traffic controller communicated with the pilot by radio, following him on a radar system and was able to guide the pilot to a safe landing.


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