Off Field Landing

My only off field landing that I ever did on purpose, ie, with the motor still running, was many years ago in one of my favorite planes.

The MXL was a 'solid gold' sail, originally purchased without ailerons in early 1983. The Eipper Aircraft factory had sold anyone with a spoiler MXL, the complete conversion to ailerons for a modest sum of money, and I had installed tham in early 1984.

This is a picture of the plane in its original spoileron form in early 1983.

Sold Gold MXL

The flight was late in the afternoon, well ahead of dark, returning from an Airport Day at Owensboro Municipal Airport. The weather was great all day but some rain predicted towards evening. I left the airport about 2 pm and headed home, a 38 mile cross country.

As I headed WNW towards my airport, the clouds got taller and taller to my right, almost blanking the sun off and on. I passed a little south of the Henderson Airport to avoid their traffic and noticed the sun was gone, the clouds were much thicker, and some dark areas appeared below several of the larger clouds. Rain !

I continued west which put me in unfamiliar territory, but directly south of my airport. As the flight progressed, the winds picked up and I immediately realized the late afternoon storms may be a bit early today. Wouldn't be the first time the weatherman was an hour off, or a week for that matter.

I located a small field with a thick line of trees, an oil well service road and a paved highway just a half mile away. Good place to tuck the plane and get a ride to civilization, or so I thought.

The landing was uneventful but with a good crab and short rollout. The bushes almost covered all but the tail and I secured the plane with my tie down ropes. Should be good for all but the worst storm and winds.

I hiked out to the road and saw not a car for at least ten minutes. Best to head one way or the other so I headed north. I was dressed up by my present standards with the Eipper tee shirt, logos, etc and the white Eipper hat.

The first house I came to was vacant, no one about and no cars, no phone wires even. May have been a bad choice of roads I thought.

The next house had a small girl playing with a cat in the stone driveway. I asked if her mom or dad wad around and she said she would get her dad.

Dad half believed my story about the landing in the field but said I could wait on the porch for the storm to pass. But the weather only got worse and worse, with some scattered rain and high winds. I told him I had been at the airport to the airshow. He said he had seen some of the planes flying over while he was returning from town that AM.

The driving rain forced us into the house as it got dark for the evening. Mom showed up and offered me a glass of pop which I gratefully accepted. The evening news came on and the 'teaser' to stay tuned through the five minutes of commercials was a glimpse of me being interviewed by the TV reporter who covered the event.

I told them to watch the TV and see me with my airplane.

The commercials seemed like an eternity but following them, there I was, getting interviewed by the reporter, with jumps to me flying my plane around the control tower.

After seeing that, they treated me as a celebrity, helped move the plane to a small shelter nearer the house, and many neighbors showed up to see the plane and listen to me talk well into the night about flying and daring deeds of men and machines.

They even packed the daughter off to a neighbors house and let me sleep in her bed for the night. Breakfast was country style Sunday morning with homemade biscuits, ham, and many more neighbors stopping by to see my departure.

I had more help than I needed getting the plane back to the oil well road, the whole town was there to help push, hold a branch up, whatever.

I thanked them all, gave out my number to several who expressed an interest in lessons and took off. It was a glorious morning, with the flight lasting only fifteen minutes or so.

Seeing the Ohio River and my telltale white hangars against the summer greens was reassuring and I knew I'd made some friends in Kentucky,,,,,