Wednesday, July 03, 2013

No injuries as plane lands in Ray Township corn field

Romeo State Airport (D98),  Michigan

No one was injured when a pilot and flight instructor landed a troubled single-engine plane in a corn field in Ray Township on Wednesday afternoon.  

 Pilot William Rands and instructor James Alford set the white Cessna 182 down in the field on 31 Mile Road about a half-mile west of Romeo Plank minutes after they left Ray Community Airport and noticed the craft’s single engine had no oil pressure, Rands said.

“The engine didn’t sound right,” Rands, 69, a licensed commercial pilot, said. “It started vibrating worse and worse. We thought we were better off making a precautionary landing.”

Rands, a Grosse Pointe resident and a member of the Warren Flying Club in Troy, and Alford were testing the four-seat, fixed-wing aircraft for the club, which had recently acquired the craft.

They left out of Oakland/Troy Airport and planned to get fuel at Ray, but, Rands said, could not get close enough to the Ray fueling station because of ongoing construction at that facility.

They then left Ray and headed for Romeo State Airport.

“We checked all the instruments (as we left Ray),” Rands said. “Everything was fine.”

But not long into the flight west from Ray to Romeo, the engine started making a noise that troubled Rands and Alford, an Ann Arbor resident.

“It was subtle, just a little bit strange,” Rands said of the engine noise. “We were not making power.”

They spotted the corn field that was a short distance east of the Romeo airport, shut off the engine when the plane was about 200 feet in the air, and landed at about 4 p.m.

The plane’s wheels rolled about 300 yards in the field before the craft came to a stop.

“It was better to (land) in something like this than try to stretch (the flight to the airfield),” Alford said.

Rands said they never lost control of the craft.

“It was not a rough touchdown,” Rands said. “It was smooth. It wasn’t much different than landing in a grass field.

“This is my first experience with this kind of thing.”

A Federal Aviation Administration official was called to the scene to conduct an investigation. He looked over the plane and the landing site with Rands and Alford.

“There’s nothing immediately obvious,” the FAA official told Rands and Alford as he inspected the plane.

“Kudos to them,” Trooper Todd T. Lambert of the Michigan State Police said of Rands and Alford. “There was no damage, and no injuries.”

A company that will retrieve the plane for the Warren Flying Club was contacted, Rands said.

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