Pilot makes emergency landing in China Grove field

Published 4:30 pm Friday, May 19, 2017

By Shavonne Walker


CHINA GROVE — A Charlotte pilot made an emergency landing Friday in a field near the Deal Estates subdivision in China Grove without major damage to the plane or injury to himself or his passenger.

Allen McGee said the engine on the Cessna Skyhawk blew as they were heading to Rowan County from Will Grove in Charlotte. He is the co-owner of the plane and has flown the route before.

“The engine has a hole big enough to stick your fist through,” he said, describing the only damage to the plane.

McGee was convinced he wouldn’t be able to make it to Rowan County.

“I said a five-second prayer. That’s all I had time for,” he said.

The plane landed in a field along Lentz Road and Fred Lane about 1 p.m.

McGee saw tall grass, slowed the airplane down, pulled the flaps in, and tried to avoid a house and power lines. He used the tall grass to slow the plane, he said. He saw tire impressions in the grass and figured it had been left by a farmer, so he knew there were no stumps in the field and he could make a soft landing.

McGee has 300 to 400 hours of flying as a pilot. He has had his license for a year and has practiced for just this type of landing. His passenger, who also co-owns the airplane, was also his instructor. The plane is registered to Daniel Knall of Salisbury.

McGee said that because there was no damage to property or the plane and no injuries, he was not required to contact the Federal Aviation Administration.

Vonni Gilmore, 15, was outside when she saw the airplane fly really low. She heard the engine make a “clanky” noise and “looked up and it was coming this way,” she said as she pointed toward some houses.

She saw the plane make a circle and go back around but never saw it land. She assumed the pilot flew low and pulled up.

“I could tell it was pretty close,” Gilmore said.

The Bostian Heights Fire Department and Rowan Rescue personnel responded.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.