The single-engine Cessna airplane that made a successful emergency landing on U.S. 441 north at W.E. King Road late Sunday morning apparently ran out of gas.
Neither the pilot nor his three passengers were injured, and the airplane appeared undamaged.
“It was an absolute miracle,” declared Commerce chief of police John Gaissert.
The airplane, piloted by Donald Moffett, 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.
Passengers in the aircraft included another adult and two boys, ages 10 and 11.
“We walked away. That’s the best thing you can hope for,” said Moffett.
A Commerce police report on the incident said that Moffett told police the airplane might have run out of fuel. The report said that after an officer later took Moffett to get fuel and they put fuel into the tank, Moffett was able to start the plane and move it off the DOT right of way into a nearby field.
The pilot told Commerce police that his glide path was too low to reach the Jackson County Airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the incident.
Two of the passengers, boys ages 10 and 11, rest in the shade of the airplane's wing Sunday as they await transport away from the side of U.S. 441. After putting more fuel in the airplane, the pilot was able to taxi it to a nearby field pending removal by a transport company.
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