Pilot forced to land on Millcreek golf course

ERIE, Pa. -- A pilot is safe after making an emergency landing on a Millcreek Township golf course.

"The amount of skill that it took to do what he did is amazing, and I can't say enough about how proud I am of him," said Greg Hayes, owner of North Coast Flight School.

Hayes said the instructor, who he declined to identify, was flying alone in a “newer” two-seat Diamond DA20 on Thursday when the engine stalled around 4:30 p.m.

Approximately three-quarters of a mile away from the runway at Erie International Airport, where the flight school is located, the pilot was forced to land at the Millcreek Golf and Learning Center in the 3100 block of West 17th Street, west of Peninsula Drive.

"It was not an option to make it (to the airport) when the engine is out,” said Hayes, but “the aircraft will glide.”

Emergency crews from Millcreek Township and the airport arrived to find the pilot uninjured. West Lake Fire Chief Rick Schau said there was no one on ground in the area, because “the golf course is closed.”

He added, “there's talk of reopening it, but this is the old driving range of the golf course: wide-open, grassy area, no obstruction for an aircraft coming in, and this pilot took advantage of it."

Hayes said the flight instructors typically take hour-long trips, but he did not know long the pilot was in the air before encountering problems.

"I've been here for about 12, 13 years. We've never had a problem like this, but we do teach it on a daily basis.”

But it is not on a daily basis that motorists see a plane travelling down West 12th Street.

Officials determined the single-engine plane safe for transport. About 90 minutes after landing, the aircraft was hoisted onto a flatbed tow truck and escorted by police back to the airport.

"Considering what happened, I couldn't even dream of a better scenario than what the outcome here is," said Hayes.
 


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