Missouri coach Kim Anderson praised the pilots of the twin-engine plane he was flying in for a recruiting trip to Illinois, which was forced to make an emergency landing Wednesday in St. Clair, Mo., because of engine failure.
St. Clair fire chief Les Crews told the Associated Press that the plane reported problems about 5 p.m. Wednesday and landed at the St. Clair airport, a little more than 100 miles southeast of Columbia.
“You think about what could happen,” Anderson said, “and it’s an experience that I hope I don’t have to (repeat). … It was a harrowing experience.”
Anderson said halfway through the flight “all of the sudden I heard a little rumble. I looked over and, shortly thereafter, the right propeller quit propelling.”
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Obviously, he knew the plane was potentially in serious trouble.
“I’ve flown a lot … ” Anderson said. “When a propeller quits propelling, I don’t think that’s good. I didn’t think they were resting the right engine.”
Anderson admitted to a few anxious moments, but said the plane’s pilots remained calm.
“I think I was nervous, but I kept telling myself, ‘Well, we’ve still got one engine. Maybe we only need one,’” Anderson said. “We did just need one, but it was tough. … To watch those pilots work — never got nervous, they just brought it right in.”
After the engine failure, Anderson said the plane banked. He leaned forward to ask if they were returning to Columbia.
“I knew we weren’t going over to Illinois and they said, ‘No, we’re going to land as soon as we find an airport,’” Anderson said. “I think we circled a little bit, and I had my eyes glued on the left engine to make sure that propeller was still working — and it was working well.”
Upon descending through the clouds, Anderson spotted an interstate and thought they might attempt to land there, but it wasn’t long before an airstrip came into view.
“There were police cars, fire engines, ambulances,” Anderson said. “That’s when I thought, ‘I think this is pretty serious.’ … You always see that on TV, but now you’re seeing it on person.”
Anderson paused to gather himself briefly when describing the landing and the reception from first responders, including Crews and St. Clair ambulance district chief Jamie Clayton.
“Stuff like that happens,” Anderson said. “It probably happens every day. It doesn’t happen to me every day, though, but I do want to say thank you to all those people.”
Clayton drove Anderson and the two pilots back to Columbia.
“I wouldn’t advise it on a Wednesday night, but the people did a great job,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how much danger we were in. I know driving home I learned a lot about first response and I learned a lot about airplanes.”