Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Rescue workers work the scene of a plane crash in a field next the Allen County Sheriff Reserve on Easterday Road near Till Road Tuesday. The pilot landed safely and without injury.

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Firefigters work the scene of a plane crash in a field next to the Allen County Sheriff Reserve on Easterday Road near Till Road Tuesday. The pilot landed safely and without injury.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 6:20 pm

Small plane makes emergency landing

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in a field off Till Road Tuesday afternoon after the plane's engine quit.

No injuries were reported for the pilot, David DeWald, and his wife, whom he did not name, the only two passengers in the Cessna Cardinal.

A pilot for 18 years, DeWald took off from Smith Field just before 3 p.m. and had already called into the Fort Wayne tower at Fort Wayne International Airport to discuss flight plans but then he heard noises coming from the engine.

Flying at 2600 feet, he turned his plane back towards Smith Field, turned off the fuel and opened the doors in preparation for an off-airport landing.

Avoiding power lines to the north of the field, DeWald chose a fallow field, a little softer than he had hoped for, and brought the plane down, he said. He landed about two miles away from Smith Field, according to Steve Stone, Allen County Sheriff's Department public information officer.

"I had 20 seconds to make a lot of decisions," DeWald said. He was up in the air for a leisure ride, he added.

He also called 911. Landing a few hundred yards from the Allen County Sheriff Reserve Hall on Easterday Road, Allen County Sheriff's deputies arrived along with Fort Wayne firefighters who were awaiting the Federal Aviation Administration's arrival.

DeWald was not able to say how the plane would exit the uneven field nor how much damage was done to the plane that was sitting upright.

As for his cool thinking that brought the plane down safely, that comes from experience.

"It's what we train for all the time," DeWald said.

jduffy@jg.net