Cornfields are a common sight around here. A 1947 Stinson 108-2 single-engine prop airplane in a cornfield is not.
But that’s exactly what happened in a field along County Road 300 South on Feb. 9 when pilots Joe Cartier and Mark French lost power to their historic plane as they traveled from Hammond, La., to the Tuskegee National Historical Museum in Detroit, Mich.
Stinson was at one point the most popular airplane builder in the world, but nowadays it is extremely rare to find a Stinson 108 still able to fly, Cartier said.
Cartier landed the plane safely and neither he nor French were injured, and the plane didn’t sustain any damage. He attributes his success to having spent years as an air show pilot, flying low to the ground frequently.
“While emergency landings are not uncommon, successful emergency landings sometimes are,” Cartier said in an email to the Journal Review. “The secret to our success was good planning and skills learned from years of flying ‘gliders.’”
Cartier said that any pilot, whether of single-engine planes or commercial airliners, should know how to fly gliders. He gave Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the man who safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after geese disabled his engines in 2009, as an example.
“When the engines on ‘Cactus 1549’ quit, Sully used his experience as a glider pilot to his advantage and saved hundreds of people in the process. Being a good glider pilot means being a much safer pilot too,” Cartier said.
Cartier and French returned to Crawfordsville this weekend to collect their plane, put it on a trailer and drove it up to Michigan for repairs. Cartier was gracious to all who were involved in his unscheduled visit to Montgomery County.
“My thanks to all in your community who helped us after we landed. Crawfordsville will always be very special place to me and when we get the Stinson back together, I plan on paying Crawfordsville another visit,” he said. “Only this time I think I will land at the airport!”