A Fort Wayne pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in a field off Till Road on Tuesday afternoon after the plane's engine quit.
No injuries were reported for the pilot, David DeWald, and his wife, whom he did not name. They were the only passengers in the Cessna Cardinal.
A pilot for 18 years, DeWald said he took off from Smith Field just before 3 p.m. and had already called in to the Fort Wayne tower at Fort Wayne International Airport to discuss flight plans but then heard noises coming from the engine.
Flying at 2,600 feet, he said he turned his plane back toward Smith Field, turned off the fuel and opened the doors to prepare for an off-airport landing. Avoiding power lines to the north of the field, DeWald chose a fallow field, a little softer than he had hoped for, and brought the plane down, he said. He landed about two miles away from Smith Field, according to Steve Stone, Allen County Sheriff's Department public information officer.
“I had 20 seconds to make a lot of decisions,” DeWald said. He was in the air for a leisure ride, he added.
He also called 911. Landing a few hundred yards from the Allen County Sheriff Reserve Hall on Easterday Road, deputies arrived with Fort Wayne firefighters who were awaiting the Federal Aviation Administration's arrival.
DeWald was not able to say how he would get his plane out of the uneven field or how much damage was done to the plane that was sitting upright.
As for his cool thinking that brought the plane down safely, that comes from experience.
“It's what we train for all the time,” DeWald said.