PC-12 With "Engine Problems" Goes Down Downtown

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Tuesday not long after noon, approximately 7,000 feet and seven miles out of South Bend (Indiana) Regional Airport a PC-12/45 reportedly lost power from its generally uber-reliable PT-6 powerplant and landed safely (excepting wing-to-power-line contact) on a busy store-lined road. The wing lost its battle (leaving an outboard section plus what the local fire marshal estimated at "400 gallons" of fuel on the road), but the occupants, aircraft and passersby escaped victorious ... provided victorious means physically unharmed. The quarter-mile stretch of road-turned-runway was actually Route 933 north of Douglas Road. Again, none among the two-man crew, three passengers, pedestrians or drivers was injured, leaving many enthusiastic witnesses. "It was skidding and jumping and then it hit a pole. I heard the brakes skid," Aaron Bolin, told the South Bend Tribune. Bolin watched the episode from the relative and highly precarious safety of a nearby gas station. "He told me he got it over an intersection and dove it under some power lines," the pilot's father told the Tribune. "He dropped it down in an area that was just full of light poles, electric poles and business," said another witness. One of the aircraft's passengers summed things up thusly, "We're happy to be alive."

The 25-year-old pilot reported "engine problems" and announced his intention to attempt a return to the airport for landing. That part of the plan didn't work out, as residents of 600 local homes lost power due to the Pilatus / power line strike -- still likely a preferred outcome. The aircraft was temporarily moved to the Howard Johnson's Inn parking lot near where it stopped ... traffic was tied up for several hours.