Emergency Landing in Kennesaw, GA
This past Monday, a student pilot and his flight instructor had to make an emergency landing in Kennesaw, Georgia after an electrical failure led to a fire which caused smoke in the cockpit followed by the failure of the aircraft’s engine.
They were cleared to land immediately at McCollum Field, but at only 1,000 feet above ground level, they were too far away to make it to the airport.
As it was stated in the article, the flight instructor had them land the aircraft on Highway 41 (also known as Cobb Parkway) at around 11:30 in the morning, and managing to miss the traffic on the road and make a clean landing.
As a pilot who did extensive ground and flight training at McCollum Field in Kennesaw, GA, I know that it was a tough situation for the flight crew to make the emergency landing.
For fighter pilots, they say that speed is life. For civilian pilots, altitude is life.
The higher you are above the ground, then the more time you have at the established glide speed before you’re back on the ground. That altitude gives you the range to hopefully make it to the best possible landing field, whether it’s an airport in the local area or a stretch of open land or even a river.
McCollum Field also isn’t one of the best areas for aircraft dealing with engine failure.
That part of Kennesaw has a major university and dense commercial and residential areas just east of the airport, while the west and northwestern areas have a lot of light to medium residential and light commercial spots. Beyond that are lots of trees, roads, and very few places to make an emergency landing. In fact, the AWOS message warns the pilots to “avoid the residential areas to the west and northwest of the airport to the maximum extent possible” at the end of each weather statement.
The problem here is that the incident occurred around 1,000 ft. That’s how low the aircraft fly in the traffic pattern around the airport. In other words, that’s nothing for general aviation pilots.
So when you have an engine failure that low to the ground, you literally have only a few moments to turn to your emergency landing spot and establishing the aircraft’s glide speed.
It surprised me that the flight instructor had them land on a highway during the early lunch hour rush. During my days of basic flight training, I had several flight instructors (they kept being cycled through the company), and pretty much all of them taught me that you should avoid landing on a road in almost all situations. Roads are dangerous for obstacles (power lines, traffic lights, signs, billboards, etc.), and the threat of hitting a car and/or causing a car crash is very high unless the road is completely clear of traffic.
The flight instructor and student pilot were lucky that they missed the cars and were able to bring the aircraft down for a smooth landing.
On the plus side, the Sky Arrow 600 Sport looks like an awesome aircraft with excellent visibility for the pilot and passenger, especially compared to the Cessna 152, 172 and 182RG models that I’ve flown.