Pilot of downed plane: 'We were very lucky'

Posted: 5:40 PM EDT Jun 21, 2013   Updated: 5:44 PM EDT Jun 21, 2013

A scare in the air moments after takeoff forced a small engine plane to make an emergency landing in a cornfield in Lebanon County.

The plane had an engine malfunction and landed just north of the Deck Airport in Jackson Township around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We pretty much determined that we were losing power rapidly, and turned back towards the airport," said Tim Jones, who was flying the plane with his wife, Brenda.

Jones said they were only about one mile from the airport, at around 2,000 feet, when they realized something was terribly wrong. The plane's RPM's decreased rapidly. Jones tried not to panic, but he said at that point adrenaline set in.

"We didn't have a whole lot of time," he said.

The Lebanon County couple made the turn and started their descent into the Deck Airport, but they realized they weren't going to make it.   

"Unfortunately, we missed the runway and just ended up putting it down in the corn," said Jones.

Some of the crops were crushed, but the landing was smooth. Amazingly, the plane barely suffered a scratch.

"Tim did a great job. He did everything right and he put it in a place where it didn't hurt anybody, and luckily he came away with it," said John Hess, a family friend,

Jones landed in the corn between King Street and South Ramona Road. The FAA was on the scene Friday looking over the aircraft and inside the cockpit, trying to determine what caused the engine malfunction.

An ATV pulled the Sting Sport through the stalks of corn and onto the road back to the airport.

"In this case, we were very lucky," said Jones. "I would stress emergency procedures are very important as a pilot."

Takeoff is optional, but Tim said landing is mandatory.