Pilot pulls off emergency plane landing in field



chris bolin for metro calgary


What’s left of a single-engine float plane lies in a farmer’s field about one kilometre from the Springbank airport yesterday. The plane lost power after takeoff, forcing the pilot to crash land.


“Based on the amount of damage, I think they’re all very, very lucky. It could have been much worse.”

Three people walked away with cuts and bruises from the twisted wreckage of a float plane yesterday morning, after the pilot managed to crash land the aircraft in an alfalfa field.

The pilot of the Murphy Moose single-engine plane reported a loss of power just after a 10 a.m. takeoff and was forced to make an emergency landing, said Larry Stock, general manager of Springbank airport, 10 km west of Calgary.

“Based on the amount of damage, I think they’re all very, very lucky,” said Stock.

“It could have been much worse.”

The plane was traveling at 150 km/h at an altitude of about 600 feet when it suddenly lost power and attempted a 180-degree turn back towards the airport, said Stock.

But the pilot realized he couldn’t make it back to the airport and Stock said he would have looked for a flat and unobstructed place to land.

“In a circumstance like this, things happen very quickly,” he said.

“So when you start losing power at that altitude, you have to do things very quickly in order to try to ensure that you can successfully land.”

The pilot chose an alfalfa field about one kilometre from the airport just off Munro Road for a crash landing that saw the plane flip from its floats onto its roof in what Stock described as a “ground loop.”

Fortunately, the pilot was able to navigate away from a nearby homestead and narrowly missed clipping a set of power lines.

The wreckage was confined to a small area and most of the plane was still intact, though the tail had broken off, opening a hole in the rear fuselage.

Two men and a woman were taken to Foothills hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The pilot and two passengers were all able to free themselves from the downed plane.

Mike Tomm, an operations investigator for the Transportation Safety Board, said investigators will try and determine what caused the plane to lose power.

The Murphy Moose-style aircraft is an amateur-built kit plane that requires a special certificate of airworthiness from Transport Canada before it is cleared to fly.