By Michele Holtkamp | For The Republic
A small plane having a possible mechanical issue landed in a farm field southeast of Franklin on Friday morning, prompting an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
No one was injured, and the plane took off from the snow-covered field near Interstate 65 within an hour of its emergency landing. The pilot and a passenger were on board.
The plane, a single-engine Cessna, took off from the Columbus Municipal Airport about 10 a.m. Friday, and within minutes was issuing a distress signal.
Emergency crews were called at 10:06 a.m. and headed southeast of Franklin, locating the plane in a field at the northwest corner of County Roads 400S and 800E. The area is near I-65 and east of Amity.
Douglas J. Wright, 52, of Greenwood, was flying the plane, which he owns, according to FAA records.
He would not answer questions about the incident when contacted Friday afternoon. Wright has a private pilot’s license to operate single-engine aircraft and his medical clearance was renewed in 2016, FAA records show.
The aircraft possibly had an engine issue due to the cold weather, a Johnson County sheriff’s office report said.
Wright wanted to resume the flight shortly after the emergency landing, and he and the passenger manually turned the plane and left, the deputy wrote in his report.
In situations such as an emergency landing, whether the pilot can resume the flight depends on several factors, such as whether there is a problem with the plane, said Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the FAA’s Great Lakes Region. FAA regulations say that a team from the FAA must be on-site to investigate and approve of any departure, Molinaro said.
That did not happen Friday, Sheriff Doug Cox said, possibly because the FAA considered the incident an occurrence that did not require an on-site response. The sheriff’s office had been sharing information about the incident with the FAA.
After the plane landed, an emergency worker on-site called a friend who is a pilot and asked whether a pilot who had made an emergency landing due to a mechanical issue could resume the flight and was told yes, Cox said. That information was relayed, and Wright and his passenger departed, Cox said.
The FAA had not arrived or cleared the take-off, Cox said.
A deputy later provided Wright’s information to an inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA investigation is just beginning, and such investigations typically include an examination of the aircraft, interviewing the pilot and passenger, reviewing maintenance records and any radar or audio and speaking with witnesses, Molinaro said.