ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers noticed an unusual sight along a state highway south of Sparta Thursday afternoon.
A small plane made an emergency landing on M-37 near 10 Mile Road during a flight lesson.
Both the instructor and the student are safe thanks to quick thinking, years of training and calm action.
The flight instructor, Steven Chanter, told 24 Hour News 8 that he and his student were practicing in Fremont. On their way back, the lesson turned into reality.
“It made some noises, it ran really rough and then it quit,” Chanter said hours after the successful emergency landing.
He’s a West Michigan Flight School instructor.
“I looked at the oil pressure gauge and it was sitting at zero,” the longtime pilot recalled.
The student, who is a freshman in college, was flying the Cessna as trouble brewed.
“As soon as the engine stopped he said to me, ‘OK, it’s your plane to fly,'” Chanter said.
The plane was only about a mile and a half from the Sparta Miller Airport. Chanter explained they were hovering only about 1,000 feet over M-37, so the question was whether they could make it back safely.
“Almost immediately as I was trying to figure that out, the engine completely stopped, which then made that decision very easy,” Chanter said.
Bill Funk said he noticed the uncomfortably-close plane overhead as he drove to the gym.
“I knew what was going to happen,” Funk said. “I just didn’t know if he was going to land it or crash it.”
Funk said there luckily wasn’t much traffic when the highway became a runway.
The main obstacles were street signs and powerlines, Chanter told 24 Hour News 8.
Chanter said he knew he would have to glide the plane under the traffic lights at the M-37 and 10 Mile Road intersection.
“Fortunately, there was only one car that was at the intersection that was in the left lane and I was able to go by him in the right lane,” he said.
“Truly God’s watching over us today that we had a clear intersection,” he added.
Chanter said the plane belongs to the student and his father, who are both learning to fly.
The Federal Aviation Administration was out investigating, according to Chanter. He said it’s clear there was an oil leak and a mechanic will inspect the plane on Friday.