Plane makes emergency landing on highway - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Plane makes emergency landing on highway

August 11, 2004

Dougherty County -- A shock for some drivers Wednesday morning. A airplane made an emergency landing on U.S. 19 South, near Putney.

It's a amazing story of a skilled pilot avoiding disaster.

Just after nine, commuters on U.S. 19 South near Skylark Lane got a shock. Witness Tim Coulter said, "First I thought it was a crop duster, then I saw him dive through the power lines back there and then he hit the median right beside of me, and slid over and landed right where he is at."

Pilot William Rodman of California, had to land his Harmon Rocket custom-built plane on the Liberty Bypass. Georgia State Patrol Pilot Sgt. A. J. White said "He's a little shook up, but O.K."

The 46-year-old Rodman flew out of Ft. Lauderdale at 6:30 Wednesday morning. He was scheduled to refuel in Dawson. But low on fuel and lost because of the fog and light rain, decided to set down on the highway.

Dougherty County Officer R. A. Black said, "He started noticing a lot of towers buzzing by his window. Based on that and the low visibility he decided to go ahead and land on the highway rather than have an accident."

Amazingly, Rodman flew the plane between a set of power lines, then landed beside Coulter. Rodman said "I tried to get over you, and saw those lines coming up."

Colin Roberts of Camilla said "It's just something I didn't expect to see first thing this morning, but the outcome was the pilot is O.K."

The $150,000 two-seater had a wheel broken off the landing gear, but that was the worst of the damage. Officer Black said "At this time of the morning. With the traffic like it is, and the visibility low. It was very fortunate."

Rodman didn't' want to go on camera. He helped load his plane onto a tractor trailer, which hauled it to the Albany airport, where it will be repaired.

The F.A.A. was notified, and will investigate the emergency landing. Investigators say William Rodman is a highly rated pilot, who helped build his airplane.

posted at 4:37 PM by jimw@walb.com