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Plane lands on street, hits car

There's an axiom among airplane pilots that any landing you walk away from is a good landing. Two pilots who landed a small plane on a Watertown street after its engine blew and covered the windshield with oil Monday afternoon will attest to that...

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A small airplane sits on Twelfth Street after it was forced to make an emergency landing Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in Watertown, Wis. Watertown Municipal Airport manager Jeff Baum says the plane was ready to land Monday when its engine blew, sprayed oil and the pilot lost visibility. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times/Samantha Christian)
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There's an axiom among airplane pilots that any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

Two pilots who landed a small plane on a Watertown street after its engine blew and covered the windshield with oil Monday afternoon will attest to that.

The incident occurred as a private pilot was returning to the Watertown Municipal Airport after getting some advanced instruction in a four-seat, single-engine 1976 Piper Arrow, according to airport manager Jeff Baum.

"They were lined up to land when the windshield became completely covered in oil and they lost all forward visibility. They couldn't see a thing in front of them," Baum said.

"They were just off the end of the runway but didn't know where they were at that point," he added. "There's a city street that runs perpendicular to the runway, they saw the street, saw there were no cars on it at that immediate spot and elected to land on that street while looking out the side windows of the airplane. They put the airplane down just fine."

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The instructor made the emergency landing in an industrial area on South 12th Street, according to Baum, who didn't divulge the names of the pilots. "Unfortunately, before they could stop, they ran into the back of a car that was going in the same direction they were going," Baum said.

A Watertown police report said the plane struck a Chevy Impala driven by a 63-year-old woman. The car sustained major damage but the driver was unhurt, the report said, as were both pilots.

The plane, owned by Wisconsin Aviation, was moved to the airport, and the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted, according to the police report.

Baum, who is also president of Wisconsin Aviation, said a four-seat, single-engine plane like a Piper Arrow typically lands while traveling about 70 mph and will stop in about 800 feet. In this case, Baum added, the instructor landed the plane while avoiding many sign posts, street lights and telephone poles along 12th Street.

"As pilots we always train for worst-case scenarios and we sure hope we never have to put those skills to work, but in this case it happened and the pilot did what he was trained to do and did a great job," Baum said.

(c)2011 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

Visit The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) at www.wisconsinstatejournal.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Related Topics: TRANSPORTATION
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