Back in Episode 58 – Flying The Ford Tri Motor And Landing On Roads, we shared a story about a pilot who made an emergency landing on Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago after experiencing flight control problems. Since then, we've received some fun listener mail about their stories of both road and emergency landings.
Today's mail comes from Mike Hart of the Pilots Journey Podcast. Mike writes,
I did an accelerated program in Las Vegas for my commercial certificate. After a week of intensive training in a Piper Arrow, it was time for my last checkout by the school before signing me over to the DPE. I went up with the Chief pilot of Monarch Aviation and completed all maneuvers to the PTS.
We left the tiny airport of Jean, NV (0L7) and headed back to Henderson, NV (KHND) on the south side of Las Vegas. We were perhaps 800 feet AGL on climb-out and perhaps 9 miles south of KHND when the engine stopped making full power and began coughing and running extremely rough. I turned the fuel pump on, switched tanks, messed with the mixture and mags, looked at the Chief pilot as I pitched for best glide and identified Las Vegas Blvd as the best option for off field landing.
He said, “Keep at it this is real, I didn't do anything.” When I pitched for best glide, the engine ran better, so I tried to climb to put some more altitude in the bank, the engine ran rough and started to fail again. We did this dance up and down and we we able to clear terrain barely holding on to 800-1000 AGL.
We called tower at Henderson asking for clearance direct to the numbers with a rough engine. The whole time, Las Vegas Blvd was below but it was turning from a frontage road (which it is south of the city) into a major suburban artery. I tried to find other clear fields and streets, but Las Vegas Blvd was always my main option until we were essentially over KHND.
We fortunately were able to land on the runway. A citation coming in on IFR with clearence was asked to go around to give us the full runway. On the ground, mechanics later identified that the 4 cylinder IO-360 had thrown a rocker arm and valve guide.
So, I just missed landing on an equally famous road. I got lucky. I passed my checkride the next day (in a different airplane).
It is an old story and was told in Episode #25 of the Pilots Journey Podcast – Short final for Las Vegas Blvd
MAN, that would have been pretty nerve wracking to perform a forced landing on such a major arterial road way such as Las Vegas Boulevard! What an adrenaline rush. What do you think of Mike's experience? Leave us a comment below.
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