Sunday, December 06, 2020

Cessna 172K Skyhawk, N79446: Incident occurred December 05, 2020 in Park City, Summit County, Utah

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah 

Aircraft made an emergency landing on an interstate.

Date: 05-DEC-20
Time: 01:20:00Z
Regis#: N79446
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: NONE
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91
State: UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY – The quick actions of a small plane pilot in the air and a driver on Interstate 80 may have saved a couple of lives last weekend.

The pilot, Jackson Walker, credited the driver who helped clear cars from I-80, creating an improvised landing strip for the plane.

Paul Jessop said he was driving on I-80 Saturday night near Park City, a little distracted.

"I admit, I was fiddling with my phone, like a bad boy, and I felt an impression, just a really rapid impression," he said.

Jessop said something told him to pay attention.

"I just threw my phone down to the side in the passenger seat and as soon as I looked up and got reoriented, I saw his plane banking as high as a tall tree," he said.

At nearly the same time in the air, Chase Dalton was watching from the passenger seat inside the plane. He reminded his good friend Walker to recall his training and he immediately went to work.

"There was that one moment of panic, where he just said, 'Oh my gosh.' I do give credit to where it's due. I do believe there was a lot of divine intervention," Dalton said.

Being near the freeway at the right time, having the altitude to glide down, a lot of things fell into place.

"When he came over, I just knew he was in trouble," Jessop said.

Jessop said he immediately turned on his hazard lights and started weaving between the lanes to slow the traffic behind him.

"And with that hole that was starting to build, he just dropped in like a fighter pilot. I was so excited I tell ya," Jessop added.

After the aircraft landed Jessop ran over to the plane.

"He leans back and opens his door and I said, 'That was awesome! You did it! You can get out now," said Jessop.

Both Jessop and Dalton have a lot of praise for Walker's piloting skills, but they admitted a lot of things just fell into place at the right time.

"Somehow, everything happened correctly and happened right. And that's where we have a lot of credit to give, to God I think. There's too many coincidences for me to say that we're just lucky," Dalton said.

Dalton said it was his first time ever in a small plane. He does not think he will get in one again, nor will his wife let him.

Pilot Jackson Walker, of Idaho Falls, managed to safely land a small airplane on the I-80 freeway Saturday evening after experiencing engine problems. No damage or injuries were reported.

SUMMIT PARK, Summit County — After its engine failed, a small passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing on the I-80 freeway near Jeremy Ranch Saturday evening.

Despite the plane’s engine troubles, the pilot was able to land safely, without sustaining any injuries to himself or his one passenger, without hitting any motorists, and without causing any structural damage to the plane itself.

Utah Highway Patrol trooper Alex Agin called it the “best-case scenario” for an aircraft making an unexpected landing on a freeway.

“It was a landing, it’s not a crash,” he said. “Fortunately, the pilot of the aircraft was able to navigate traffic, find an opening on the eastbound traffic lanes and successfully land it with a disabled engine at hand.”

Jackson Walker, of Idaho Falls, was flying himself and a friend from Idaho Falls to Provo Saturday night when, about an hour-and-a-half into the flight, he noticed the oil pressure in the Cessna 172K Skyhawk he was piloting had dropped “almost to zero.”

He began looking for alternate places to land, thinking the airport in Heber City might work, when his engine seized and stopped. After trying and failing to restart it multiple times, he knew that he wasn’t going to make it to an airport.

Fortunately, he had decided to travel over I-80, so that in case of an emergency, he would have a place to land.

“I thought ... if your engine ever goes out, you want to make sure you’re over a highway,” he said.

“You plan for the worst and you hope it never happens, but in this case it did. And I was glad that I was on I-80 rather than the traffic on I-15, so I tried to keep my speed with the traffic, flash my landing lights several times and just tried to stick with what you train for.”

He stuck the landing and was able to guide his plane down by Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club, according to UHP Lt. Colton Freckleton.

“It seemed like the rumble strip was the bumpiest part,” said Walker, who was able to maneuver the plane to an open on-ramp.

Following the landing, he and his passenger were able to exit the plane and push it to the shoulder of the road, out of the way of traffic.

The landing was aided by a Good Samaritan who was driving on the interstate and helped provide adequate space for Walker to land.

“He started swerving to slow down traffic behind us, and that created even more room,” Walker said. “That was just great, just really heads up.”

Walker is a self-described “newly minted private pilot” and only started flying in June — a fact that makes the safe landing even more miraculous.

“I was obviously nervous, but at the same time, just tried to think through what the procedure I’d practiced is when you do your check rides and everything,” he said. “(I) just said a quick prayer and just wanted to get home and make sure that my passenger got home to his baby.”

Despite Walker’s relative inexperience, the engine failure wasn’t a beginner’s mistake, he said, and he is puzzled as to why it happened.

“There will definitely be further investigation as to why the engine failure happened, cause I just got the oil changed yesterday, just trying to be diligent with maintenance and be responsible,” he said. “You try to plan ahead, but things happen.”


  1. Engine maint(oil Change) just performed hhhhhhhmmmmmm?
    Great job by pilot!...hopefully just coincidental engine failure?

  2. Potentially the most dangerous time with a plane is the one that just had maintenance work. I'm always leary because of having issues several times.

  3. Right after an oil change and no operation after until this flight? Or did he fly it once or twice after the change? Oil leak from improperly tightened oil drain cap or filter? Pump failure out of nowhere? A lot of failure possibilities. Just way too coincidental to the oil change and zero oil pressure in flight.

  4. Gutsiest landing Ive ever seen and still alive and intact.
    Add that to your resume brother!