Police Escort For Tennessee Takeoff


It’s not every day a pilot gets a police escort for takeoff but a Cessna 172 owned by the East Tennessee Pilots Club had motorcycles and cars with lights blazing for its short hop to Island Home Airport near Knoxville on Wednesday morning. The pilot reportedly made a precautionary landing on I-640 because he was low on fuel. He got it down and off to the shoulder without incident and a friend brought a jerry can. By then they’d attracted quite a crowd, including about 10 law enforcement officers. 

The authorities blocked 2,000 feet of freeway and the freshly fueled aircraft lined up in the fast lane and accelerated under an overpass before lifting off uneventfully. It was on the ground for less than an hour.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. This just leaves me begging for more info…like how did this pilot end up low on fuel, how much risk assessment was made for the departure from the highway and is this simply the end of this event or will an FAA inspector look into it?

    • Yep. Low fuel doesn’t typically just “suddenly happen” … and if it does, you shouldn’t be flying the beast.

  2. You don’t go around and wave your wings to officers and the line of cars waiting after you just screwed up in the first place with low fuel, the FAA will probably be his next stop with little amusement.

  3. Reminds me of an incident in the party town of San Felipe….returning to the aircraft after a long weekend to find the old dirt runway plowed up and seeded with large rocks….ah, good times those were 🙂

  4. So, everyone is ragging on the guy for getting too low on fuel, which is a case of bad judgment, that much is true, but if you made a series of bad decisions, then ended up low on fuel, how many people have run out of gas trying “to just make it a little bit further?” Electing to do a precautionary landing, when you know you’re going to raked over the coals for it is honestly a decent bit of judgment after a lot of bad judgment.

    I’d really like to know how this happened, was it unforecast headwinds, poor planning or something else? How much fuel was in his tanks when he landed on the road? Did he know? Still, at the end of the day electing to do a precautionary landing is an extremely hard choice to make, props to the guy for trying to do the right thing after a bunch of other bad decisions.