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‘Watch that truck!’ Pilot helps guide small aircraft to the ground after engine failure

Team effort helps land small plane after sudden engine failure
Team effort helps land small plane after sudden engine failure

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A pilot, who is also a flight instructor, is being credited with helping safely land a Cessna 172 after its engine stopped working mid-flight during training.

Pilot Richard Lee of SKYDUO was flying with a student Friday in western Broward County when during a high-performance maneuver, the engine suddenly cut off.

“This is what we train for,” Lee said.

He was unable to reach emergency crews on the radio but said a nearby pilot who was also flying with a student heard the calls and helped guide the pair through this emergency.

Radio transmissions reveal how the pilot and student remained calm as they glided. The other pilot nearby, identified as Marcus Summa from Skyline Aviation Academy in Fort Lauderdale, was heard giving advice and keeping them focused.

Richard Lee: “Do you think it’s a good idea to land on the highway?”

Marcus Summa: “Yeah man, put it down wherever you got. You look good.”

Richard Lee: “Ok. F***, I’m so scared.”

Marcus Summa: “You’re looking good man. Your approach looks good. I think you’re going to be fine. Did the engine just quit on you?”

Moments later you hear the small aircraft getting lower as Lee tries to eyeball landing right on I-75 near Mile Marker 37.

Richard Lee: “There are cars. There’s lots of cars out.”

Marcus Summa: “Maintain a faster than normal air speed so you have something to work with to put it down between cars. Put it down in front of them and they’ll see you and stop.”

Richard Lee: “I’ll try, I’ll try.”

Marcus Summa: “You’re looking good. Watch that truck.”

After some dipping and dodging, a big sigh of relief

Richard Lee: Yeah, I landed! I landed! I landed! We’re on the highway! We’re on the highway!

Marcus Summa: Alright, good landing, sir. I’m going to tell Miami you’re OK.

Emergency crews rushed to the instructor and student on I-75.

They told us on Friday they were grateful they were safe but couldn’t thank the pilot who guided them down to the ground enough.

The FAA is still investigating what caused the plane’s engine to cut off.


Small plane makes emergency landing in West Broward

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.