Utah Pilot Talks About Harrowing Emergency Landing Near Rock Springs Airport

Jan 30, 2019, 12:32 AM | Updated: 1:11 am

SWEETWATER COUNTY, Wyo. — A Utah pilot returned to a remote area outside the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Tuesday to survey his plane following a harrowing emergency landing just the day before.

Eric Holt, of Heber, said he encountered a strong headwind between Rawlins and Rock Springs on his trip home from Wayne, Neb., Monday evening.

“I looked at my fuel and looked at the time to get to here and it looked good—(I) thought we had enough fuel,” Holt said. “Literally 3 minutes from the airport, the engine started going out.”

The plane at that point was at an altitude of 8,500 feet.

“My wife asked me over the headset, she said, ‘are we going to make it to the airport,’ and I told her, ‘no,’” Holt said.

Holt and his wife were traveling with their three children — their 2-year-old twins and their 2-week-old infant.

The pilot said he relied on his training to carefully land the plane in a relatively flat spot without doing any significant damage to the aircraft or injury to any of his family.

“I set my air speed for manufacturer’s recommendations, I picked a spot that looked flat, I didn’t see any obstructions, I didn’t see any power lines,” Holt said. “I picked a spot, I went for it, and I landed as best I could and looking at the plane, I’m amazed at how well the plane is intact.”

Reaching the ground safely spelled relief for the family, but they were still far from out of their predicament.

The plane sat on relatively inaccessible, snow-covered land 3 miles from the airport, and the wind chill had dipped below zero.

According to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, deputies believed it would take a significant amount of time to reach the family in a tracked vehicle, so they sought the help of a Life Flight helicopter, which happened to be nearby, to lift the family to safety.

“From that point, we knew we were going to be OK,” Holt said.

Corporal Jason Mower said deputies were glad everything ended as it did, noting ample margin for error.

Tuesday afternoon, Holt recovered several personal items from the plane and surveyed it for any possible damage.

He said he was grateful to deputies, the Life Flight crew and the men who helped him get back out to the plane to recover property.

“It’s been an absolutely amazing 24 hours, and we’re just so thankful to be alive and for the kindness everyone has showed us,” Holt said.

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Utah Pilot Talks About Harrowing Emergency Landing Near Rock Springs Airport