“So there we were…!” I love starting stories like this.
So there we were. Margaret and I were driving back from our quiet weekend getaway to the North Georgia mountains and enjoying the quiet ride with no kids. On Saturday we had an amazing 14 mile hike up beyond Amicola falls and all the way to the Len Foote Hike Inn. If you haven’t done the trip, it’s awesome! I highly recommend it. More on that later.
As we drove south towards home, cruising down I-575, about 1:00pm we noticed a fleet of police cars zooming north with sirens blaring. Then we hit the traffic. We just stopped. On a Sunday afternoon! Some goober had probably decided to crash his car and inconvenience our quiet trip home. So we sat stopped for a few minutes. Then we noticed the police cars zooming up the shoulder beside us… then they stopped right in front of us. Then the fire truck came and stopped right in front of us. Then the other fire truck! What in the world?! Whatever had happened was right in front of us! So we grabbed the iPhone camera and videoed what we saw next as we weaved through the growing scene.
Check this out:
Now as a pilot, my first reaction is probably different than non-pilots… my FIRST reaction was “AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! HE MADE IT!!!!” (In fact you can hear me say this on the video and Margaret cheered for them.) I mean, the plane was perfectly in tact and he had obviously executed a perfect landing on an interstate without hurting anybody at all. No people on the ground, no people in the plane.
Pilots have a saying that:
A good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is one you can re-use the airplane.
Obviously he executed a great landing. Now the problem here begins when we start speculating about what happened. It didn’t look like anything was on fire, so probably not a fire. No structural problems that we could see, so the airframe was fine. Weather was a little cloudy with some light showers in the area, but visibility was fine and unlikely there was any windshear or other severe turbulence issues.
Then that leaves one of the most common issues: fuel. I’m just saying… as we pulled up the N-number on FlightAware, tracked where we went the day before and where he was today.. then consider the fuel capacity and burn of his Beechcraft Bonanza 33, it would make sense to draw the conclusion that his reported “Loss of Power” was related to his “Loss of Power Making Juice.” I REALLY hope that’s not the case. I’m just saying it’s possible.
Again, it’s not my place to speculate about the complex chain of events that led to whatever happened, but I just wanted to share the story because it leaves you with a bag of mixed emotions. YES, we are ecstatic that he made an amazing successful emergency landing without hurting anyone or any property. But if it turns out it was poor planning or bad decision making that led him to the situation in the first place, it takes some of the edge of the excitement for his Sully-like heroics. Then there is the fact that they had to close the highway for several hours after the incident causing thousands of people to have their schedules messed up. So the happiness for the good piloting and good fortune is potentially muted by a number of related factors. I guess it’s just life. Sometimes things don’t yield a single simple emotion, and especially without knowing the full story (yet), it’s hard to know how to react.
Still, when driving around Kennessaw, GA you may want to keep your eyes UP!