Plane Lands In Street Near Tulsa International Airport
TULSA, Oklahoma - A plane lost its power over Tulsa and two teenagers landed it without a scratch. The teens said 30 seconds of quick thinking is what kept them alive.
Authorities say two 18-year-olds from Jenks, one who says he is a certified pilot, took off in a Cessna 172 from Riverside Airport. They were doing a touch-and-go at TIA with the next stop at an Owasso airport.
The call went out as a plane crash, but there wasn't a scratch on the Cessna, or the two teenagers inside. Firefighters said the 18 year olds pulled off a perfect emergency landing.
The 18 year olds said the small engine plane barely made it past the runway when the plane's vertical speed indicator - that shows how fast the plane is climbing - hit zero.
Pilot Eric Nichols had just finished his first day back at Jenks High School when he and pilot-in-training Tanner Price took off from Riverside Airport.
"It's amazing. I've never seen something like this before. Never been in it,” Price said.
They flew to Tulsa International, touched ground then took off again, but at about 100 feet in the air the plane stopped climbing because the engine lost power.
"We had about 1,900 RPMs and I knew that wasn't going to be enough to get us anywhere, so we didn't have enough runway, I told tower, 'I'm putting it down,' and I set it down on the road here,” Nichols said.
"From the time that it actually happened and the time that we were stopped was maybe 30 seconds,” said Price.
Nichols was able to put down the plane between two utility poles and had to avoid a car driving down the street. He said he has made landings on narrow strips before, but as he was descending, a car was driving down the street, which slowed to avoid the plane.
"Uh, it was a tight fit. Definitely a tight fit,” Nichols said.
Tulsa Fire Airport Chief, Michael Atchison, said he was impressed.
"Real proud of those guys,” Atchison said. “They did a good job 'cause, you know, the tense moments right there, for them to lay it down, find a place to land it when they lost all the power. They did a great job."
Our own pilot, Will Kavanagh, was also impressed.
"Very tight landing. For such young pilots to have this experience so young, and to walk away from this, only good things for them in the future,” Kavanagh said.
The pilot said he has 61 hours of in-plane training while his co-pilot has 13.
The two were almost calm when we talked to them and they credited their training for how they handled the emergency.
The plane is owned by Tulsa-based Christensen Aviation, the company run by former city councilor Bill Christensen. Someone at the company confirmed that no one was injured but made no other comment.