In a story that almost defies belief, four Alabama area men were involved in an emergency landing of a Cessna 421 in a remote cotton field in Selma, Ala., just hours before the Alabama Crimson Tide took on the Ole Miss Rebels in Tuscaloosa this past Saturday.
The pilot of the plane, who does not want to be identified, had to make an emergency landing when both of the engines of his plane failed within minutes of each other. With no other options and being 20 miles from the closest airport, the pilot carefully navigated the plane into the field.
One of the men speaking out, identifies himself as an Auburn Tigers fan named John White-Spunner.
“I’m thinking, we’re probably getting ready to die,” Spunner told a local NBC affiliate. “Coming in we lost one of the motors. He tried to get it restarted. Couldn’t really get it re-started.”
Spunner himself is also a licensed pilot and spotted the safe area to land the Cessna. After the plane made the landing, the four men caught a ride from Selma to Montgomery. The pilot then rented a car and drove everyone to Tuscaloosa in time for the start of the game, where they watched Alabama upend Ole Miss 33-14.
The plane was traveling at excess of 100mph when the landing was made.
“[I] looked out and there was fuel pouring out of that tank. I’ve had friends who have been burned in planes, so I ran to the back, and we got out,” Spunner said.
Spunner recalled that a family had heard the plane go down and came to check on the incident. “They got out of their car, and everybody started hugging. We got in a circle, and got on our knees and said a prayer to Jesus.”
An investigation into the cause of engine failure is underway. The Federal Aviation Administration has assumed control over the operation and will be recovering the plane from Selma today.