COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- The co-pilot of a small plane that made an emergency landing, in Eastern Collier County shares his story.
Last night, he and the pilot were doing a test ride of the Cessna 182 Skylane. They were forced to land in a dirt road in Golden Gate Estates, near the Picayune Strand National Forest. We're told pilots spend their careers training for these types of situations.
"I've done dozens of these tests flights and nothing ever happens usually," said co-pilot, Hans Muller.
1,700 feet in the air and just 20 minutes into their flight, the unexpected happened for two Naples pilots.
"I learned a loud bang and a pop, something had let go in the engine," said Muller.
The levels on the Cessna 182 Skylane began to drop.
"The low oil pressure light came on, I glanced at the gage, the gage was down and we had other gages indicating they weren't where they were suppose to be," Muller explained.
Pilot Bill Cecil and co-pilot Hans Muller immediately started to plan.
"When I initially heard the "pop", I said "oh no, I can't believe this."
Their plane was going down and they needed to land quickly, minutes mattered.
"We found a road that was running parallel to I-75; We had enough wing clearance and enough ground clearance, so we decided to put it there. I have to give all the credit to Bill because he did the flying, but together we did the planning," Muller told WINK.
The pilots were testing the planes newly installed engine and propeller..
"I have over 27,000 hours of flying time; I don't know if that helped or my experience helped or the fact that we simulate these things all the time when we are flying."
They landed the plane and neither men were injured. Over 100 years of flying experience between the two paid off.
"Today, is my birthday and I guess yesterday God wanted me to see that I could celebrate my 73rd birthday!"
The plane has had the wings taken off. It will be moved to the Naples airport where it will be inspected. It's still unclear what happened mid-flight.