The pilot of a single-engine Cessna airplane that lost power made a successful emergency landing on U.S. 441 north at W.E. King Road near Commerce late Sunday morning. Neither he nor his three passengers were injured, and the orange and white airplane appeared undamaged.
“It was an absolute miracle,” declared Commerce chief of police John Gaissert.
The airplane, carrying another man and two young boys, was en route to Gainesville from Charleston, SC, when the airplane began to experience intermittent power failure, GaIssert said. Seeing U.S. 441 below and catching a break in the traffic, the pilot landed the plane and pulled it out of the traffic lanes.
“We walked away. That’s the best thing you can hope for,” said the pilot, who declined to give his name pending an interview with representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
He said his passengers “were very calm and very trusting, which was a blessing to me,” adding that he saw just one vehicle on the road and was able to drop the plane smoothly onto the northbound lane.
The first thing he did upon landing, he said, was to send his wife a text message notifying her that everyone was safe.
“I was in contact with air traffic control (during the landing),” the pilot added.
The pilot told Commerce police that his glide path was too low to reach the Jackson County Airport.
The FAA is investigating the cause of the incident.