Emergency landing nets road trip home

Gregory Epperson arrived home to the sight of an aircraft in one of the fi elds on his family’s farm. (Contributed photo by Gregory Epperson)
The Cessna model 172C is loaded and bound for a road trip back to Tennessee. (Contributed
photo by Gregory Epperson)

The pilot of this airplane made an emergency June 18 landing in a field on the Josie Epperson farm in Ararat.

Gregory Epperson said it is his family’s farm. He said the family didn’t hear the plane or know anything was amiss, but later learned one of their farm hands saw the craft.

“It was flying very low, barely clearing a ridge it went over,” Epperson said he was told by the farm hand. “When we came back from town, it was in a field. I’m glad they were able to land safely.”

Patrick County Sheriff’s deputies, fire and rescue vehicles were at the scene, Epperson said, adding that fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.

“The good part is no one was injured,” Epperson said. “A little bit further, he (pilot) could have run into a fence or trees. There are obstacles, but fortunately he was able to stop it in a field.”

Another one of the Epperson’s farm hands gave the pilot a ride into Mount Airy, N.C., Epperson said.  “He was going there to arrange transportation back to Tennessee. The pilot told him about the problem,” Epperson said, and added the emergency landing was due to a problem that resulted from a fuel injector malfunction.

A Patrick County Sheriff’s deputy returned later the same day to put a note on the aircraft that it was not to be moved until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigated the incident, Epperson said.

Two days later, after local authorities and the FAA completed their investigations, the wings and propeller were removed and the aircraft was loaded onto a trailer bound for Tennessee.

According to the FAA, the plane was a Cessna fixed wing, single engine craft, model 172C. It was manufactured in 1961 and is registered to Richard W. Cantley of Bluff City, Tenn.

Although Epperson said he has seen helicopters land in some of the fields on his farm, the air plane “looked really odd and out of place. We have never had an airplane land here before.”

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