Off Airport Landings, No (Huge) Problem

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Usually, an airplane making an off-airport landing is pretty routine -- though it might be a memorable event to those involved. But last weekend there seemed to be a rash of pilots without runways. On Sunday, Robert Berkoski was flying his Piper Super Cub, towing a banner to New York's Giants Stadium. He started losing altitude, so he dumped the banner in the water, then headed for a sparsely-populated Staten Island beach, where he landed safely. On the opposite coast, another banner tower, on his way to Gillespie Field in a Cessna 150, had fuel problems and landed on California Route 125 in El Cajon. Near Chicago, an instructor and student in a Piper Cherokee 140 took off from Palwaukee at about 10 a.m., but didn't get far. They put it down about two miles to the southwest, in a backyard in a residential area. Some tree branches were broken, and the airplane and occupants were a bit worse for wear, but nobody was seriously hurt. And just one more, from the far side of the world. A New Zealand pilot in a Mooney M20 headed for Paraparaumu Beach at dusk on Friday, after his engine started running rough. An airport was nearby, but the pilot chose the beach to avoid plowing into houses if he ran out of altitude on the approach.