A pilot for the Iowa State Patrol made a safe landing on a highway in western Iowa this weekend after the engine died on his single-engine plane.

A Department of Natural Resources conservation officer was a passenger in the plane, monitoring deer hunters near the border of Audubon and Guthie Counties. Trooper Scott Pigsley says the problems with the Cessna 182 began at around 3:30 p.m.  

“The engine on the aircraft started to make a clattering noise,” Pigsley says. “…We were too far away from any airport. The engine locked up, so we had to land on Highway 44.”

Pigsley says fortunately, traffic on the highway was light at the time, no more than two or three cars at the most.  “There was a pick-up that was coming at us and he seen my lights,” Pigsley says. “He pulled over on the shoulder and asked us if we were o.k. when we got out.”

Pigsley has nearly 15-years flying experience under his belt. He says his training really came into play Saturday.

“You train and you stay calm,” he says. “You fly the airplane first and you don’t worry about anything else and we practice emergency proceedures and you learn how to pick out your landing spot and you fly to your landing spot and then you worry about things afterwards.”

The plane wasn’t damaged during the landing, but it needs a new engine.  The plane was put on a flatbed truck and hauled to Atlantic for repairs.  The trip took about five hours, as the truck didn’t go faster than 20 miles per hour, and had to take a circuitous route to avoid a narrow railroad overpass. 

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident to try to find out what caused the engine to fail.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic