Plane makes emergency landing in hayfield

June 23, 2008 4:06:42 PM PDT
A 40-year-old Virginia man is very lucky to be alive tonight. His plane stopped just short of a heavily wooded area. Authorities say if it wasn't for the 25-acre hayfield in which the plane landed, slowing it down, he may have crashed into the woods. 40-year-old pilot John Ayers from Potomac Falls, Virginia was on his way to the Flying W Airport in Medford Township. He had about 15 miles to go, when suddenly his small, single-engine prop plane developed engine trouble.

An officer on scene tells us, "He realized he was having a little bit of a problem with his aircraft. At some point his aircraft died on him and he realized he had to put the aircraft down. He was trying to attempt to do a landing over at our local airport in Albion but didn't make it."

With time running out for Ayers he had to think fast. His plane was still not responding. Suddenly, he spots a 25-acre hayfield between Berlin/Clementon Road and Franklin Avenue in Berlin Borough.

With a school adjacent to the field and a residential area nearby, the pilot was able to put the plane down in the field safely, keeping it and himself out of harm's way.

This is the third plane to go down in South Jersey in four days. On Friday night an Atlantic City policeman and his wife were killed when their Harmon Rocket stunt plane crashed in Belleplain, Cape May County. Then on Sunday, pilot William Crean was his two-seater Aero L-29 Delfin went down in Millville, Cumberland County. A friend of Crean's, whose identity has not been released, was also killed in the crash.

Luckily, despite some minor bumps and bruises, pilot John Ayers is in good shape. Sunday evening authorities were awaiting the arrival of the FAA and NTSB to determine why the plane went down.