Friday, April 20, 2018

Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow, N8564N: Incident occurred April 20, 2018 in Myrtle Beach, Horry County, South Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Carolina

Aircraft reported oil pressure loss and landed on a highway.

C & W Flying Inc:

Date: 20-APR-18
Time: 16:50:00Z
Regis#: N8564N
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 28R 200
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Pilot Donald Crotty hugs a Myrtle Beach International Airport employee after performing an emergency landing in his private plane on International Drive in Myrtle Beach on April 20, 2018. 

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Donald Crotty and his wife made it to the Myrtle Beach area, although they were roughly eight miles short of their intended landing zone.

The Pennsylvania couple were traveling to the Grand Strand with their dog in a single-engine plane when the aircraft started losing oil pressure mid-flight.

Crotty, who has been flying for 40 years, knew he had to find somewhere else to land, since making it to the airport didn’t look to be a possibility.

Fortunately, he saw the still-under-construction International Drive, which was free of any vehicles.

“All you could say was good place, really,” Crotty said when recalling how he felt when he spotted the road from the air.

Crotty landed the plane on International Drive Friday afternoon, and he, his wife and their four-legged companion were able to walk away from that landing.

“You’ve got to have nerves of steel,” Crotty said.

Shortly afterward, the veteran pilot admitted he was still shaken up by the experience, but credits a higher power with the safe landing.

“God was with me. God was with me,” he said.

Crews with Horry County Fire Rescue and North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue responded to International Drive near Highway 31 after the small airplane landed on the road.

Story and video ➤

Sherry Crotty and her dog Rocky after Crotty performed an emergency landing on International Drive in Myrtle Beach on April 20, 2018.

A couple on their "freedom flight" to celebrate retirement landed their plane on an unfinished section of International Drive outside of Myrtle Beach after the engine blew.

"You don't panic, you don't panic," said Sherry Crotty. " You just look for a place to put it down safely."

Sherry, her husband and pilot Donald and their dog Rocky all escaped injury in the incident. The plane landed on the road near S.C. 31 at about 1 p.m. on Friday. 

The plane came to a stop about a mile from the Academy for Arts, Science and Technology in a section still being paved and not open to traffic.

Sherry was complimentary of her husband, noting he didn't hit an orange construction barrel that lined the roadway as he landed the plane.

Donald said they were about eight miles from the Myrtle Beach Airport when the engine blew.

"It just stuttered, shut off and you could see smoke coming off the engine cockpit," he said.

He said he told air traffic controllers about his plan. At about 1,700 feet he spotted the unused road, which Donald described as the "safest place in the world" to land.

Before takeoff, and at landing, Donald said he says a little prayer when he flies.

"God was with me," Donald said.

The couple traveled from Hagerstown, Maryland to Myrtle Beach and planned to spend 12 days in the area.

Sherry Crotty said the two sold many possessions, but not the plane, which they've owned for 40 years. Both hold pilots licenses and Donald has a commercial license, Sherry said.

About a year ago, the engine blew and was then overhauled, Sherry said.

The wings will be removed from the plane and the vessel will be taken by truck back to the Pennsylvania home, Sherry said.

James Major lives three miles from where the plane landed. A friend called him as the plane had difficulty in the air over their homes.

Major, who flies himself and lost loved ones in a plane crash, tracked the flight online as it descended. He initially through it landed in the trees only to arrive and see it landed safely.

"It's my worst fear," Major said about watching the plane lose altitude.

Horry County Fire and Rescue, North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue and Horry County Police responded to the scene.

Story and video ➤


  1. Captain Crotty has a perfect gift of gab. Journalist Erin Edwards did a fabulous video interview!

  2. What a wonderful outcome to a bad situation! Judging by the pics, there were an awful lot of trees, telephone poles and wires close to that highway and the pilot managed to not hit anything. I'd say it was a combination of serious piloting skills, luck & a higher power. Good job!