Friday, August 02, 2019

Rand Robinson KR-2, N5391M: Incident occurred August 01, 2019 in Spanaway, Pierce County, Washington

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Seattle, Washington 

Aircraft ran out of fuel and landed on highway.

Date: 01-AUG-19
Time: 15:17:00Z
Regis#: N5391M
Aircraft Make: KR
Aircraft Model: KR2
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)

PIERCE COUNTY, Washington - When Trooper Clint Thompson spotted a small airplane heading for Pacific Avenue on Wednesday morning, he turned on his flashing lights and his dashboard camera as the plane flew over him.

Turning to block traffic, Thompson followed in the northbound lanes as the pilot struggled, without power to bring the aircraft down safely and even managing to stop at the red light at 138th street.

Drivers on Pacific Avenue couldn’t believe what was happening as the plane came closer and closer.

“I looked up and couldn’t figure out what I was seeing,” said Dennis Diessner. "'Cause you don’t see a plane landing every day on Pacific Avenue. I could have reached out and touched the tip of his wing, that’s how close I was to that plane.”

Jason Piersall saw the plane coming right at him and realized it was about to hit his car.

“We had to dodge the plane. As soon as we turned off the road, the plane touched down. The guy was all over the place, but he saved it. It was pretty cool,” laughed Piersall.

Pilot David Acklam said he was flying the single-seat plane to work from a small airstrip in Yelm when he suddenly lost power. He searched for a safe place to land and aimed for the two northbound lanes of the busy arterial.

Fortunately, Thompson was headed south on Pacific right at that moment and turned north, pulling in behind him just before he touched down, blocking traffic and clearing the roadway for landing.

“Probably saved me from either serious injury or death,” said Acklam. “And somebody else from getting into a car crash with a plane. So thanks to the state patrol, and it’s a good day to be alive."

The dashcam video shows Thompson approaching the plane, knocking on the fuselage as Acklam popped open the cockpit. No one was injured. For Thompson, it was a first in his long career on the road.

“In 21 years, I would say that’s the first time I ever went across the radio and said that there’s a plane that landed on Pacific Avenues,” said Thompson.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

Story and video ➤


  1. One of the few good outcomes for a KR-2 not making it to an airport.

    Dumb luck.

  2. Dearest David Acklam,

    Sir, I appreciate you putting your life in harms way for me. Thank you for serving America. You earned my respect, sir.

    Hand Salute from a 20 year Vet; U.S. military pilot.

  3. All you armchair pilot wanna-bes please stop talking about this pilot like he didn’t know what he was doing. Fuel starvation can happen in many more ways than just” not putting fuel in the plane”. He had one chance to slip that plane down into an empty space on a piece of highway that’s barely wider than the runway he’s used to using; I’d say he did just fine and his training kicked in perfectly.

  4. From one of those armchair but current pilot's let me just say are an idiot to praise this other idiot! :-) In the general aviation population we need to police our own.... You choose to say "Wow" ...what a great demonstration of reaction and piloting skills... When you cause the emergency through irresponsibility I find it difficult to slap this pilot on the back in compliment...

  5. I've been told that the news article actually got it right - this was a fuel system malfunction. N5391M does not have a typical KR-2 fuel system. It has left and right wing aux tanks in addition to the usual main header tank in the fuselage. Fuel flowed backward from the main header tank into the right wing aux tank, and then vented out of the airplane through the right wing vent tube.

  6. FWIW, having fuel back-siphon from the main to an empty aux tank is *not* 'forgetting to put fuel in the plane'.

    There was fuel pouring out the right-wing aux tank vent at the point that the plane was moved to the Jiffy Lube. That tank was supposed-to be empty.

    Plane is flying again & a check-valve has been added to the fuel system to prevent back-siphoning.