Federal aviation investigators have ruled that an emergency plane landing in a farm field southeast of Franklin in January was simply an occurrence, rather than an accident or incident.
The plane, which was possibly having a mechanical issue, landed on Jan. 19 in a field near Interstate 65 and resumed its flight within an hour. No one was injured. The owner and pilot, Douglas J. Wright of Greenwood, and one passenger were on board.
The Federal Aviation Administration initially said that in situations such as an emergency landing, whether the pilot can resume the flight depends on several factors, such as whether there is a problem with the plane. FAA regulations said in January that a team from the FAA must be on-site to investigate and approve of any departure.
The FAA also would typically inspect the aircraft and talk to the pilot, including having a discussion about the best way to move the aircraft or resume the flight, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
That didn’t happen in this case, as the FAA didn’t make contact with Wright until after he landed a second time at Indy South Greenwood Airport, Isham Cory said.
However, it is possible to move the aircraft or resume the flight after having discussions and assurances that there was no damage or injuries, she said.
Indiana State Police were on scene when the pilot resumed his flight from the field, she said. A Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputy later provided Wright’s information to an inspector with the FAA.
The landing has been classified as an “occurrence,” rather than an incident or accident. The classification as an occurrence means that the plane landed without damage and no one was injured, Isham Cory said.
Pilots experiencing engine trouble are encouraged to land in the closest safe space to protect themselves and people on the ground, Isham Cory said.
“In this situation, the pilot chose to land on hard, frozen ground, so there was no damage,” Isham Cory said.
Wright, who has a private pilot’s license to operate a single-engine aircraft, started his flight that day from the Columbus Municipal Airport.
Emergency crews were called to the area when the plane began issuing a distress signal. The aircraft possibly had an engine issue due to the cold weather, a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office report said.
Wright wanted to resume the flight shortly after the emergency landing, and he and the passenger manually turned the plane and left, the deputy wrote in his report.