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Pennsylvania pilot recounts emergency landing on I-70 near Richfield

Aug 8, 2023, 10:21 PM | Updated: Aug 9, 2023, 7:35 am

RICHFIELD, Utah — A Pennsylvania pilot made an emergency landing along I-70 near Richfield Tuesday afternoon. Charles Aiken said when he and his passenger ran into trouble above southern Utah, decades of training kicked in.

“Everything was going beautifully today until we realized we were burning more fuel than was indicated,” Charles Aikens said. “We don’t have any equipment to identify the fuel burn rate.”

Aikens, a pilot of 32 years and a flight instructor of 25 years, left California Tuesday morning with the 1966 Piper Cherokee 180. He and his passenger were delivering the plane to its new owner in Pennsylvania.

“Neither of us had ever flown it, and that’s a real hazard to pilots. It’s called fairing aircraft. You trust at the mechanic who signed off on it is competent,” Aikens said.

The two ended up gliding the plane and were forced to land along the interstate.

“At some point we knew we were landing on I-70 and we were watching for traffic. A truck we did not see was under the underpass and our right wing tip hit the trailer and that’s what caused us to go off the roadway,” Aikens said.

Thankfully, no one was injured.

Aikens is crediting the quick thinking of his passenger who is also a pilot.

“We had what is called crew resource management. We’d talked to each other and came up with a plan,” Aikens said.

Aikens is encouraging all pilots both experienced and novice, to practice emergency landings.

“Pilots, practice emergency landings with your instructor or by yourself learn how your airplane glides when the engine quits,” he said.

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Pennsylvania pilot recounts emergency landing on I-70 near Richfield