Pilot praised for calm in emergency crash landing

PERTH, Australia, AP

Four people in a stricken airplane walked away after the pilot steered it beneath power lines to crash land on a vacant lot between two houses, police said Tuesday.

The Cessna 172P came to rest upside down just centimeters (inches) from a house in the Western Australia state capital Perth late Monday.

The pilot was trying to land the plane, which was suffering engine trouble, on a road but changed his mind when he saw a car, police said.

He managed to steer the craft under eight high-tension powerlines and head for a vacant lot between two houses.

The single engine plane clipped a fence of one of the houses before flipping and crash-landing on its roof.

The 27-year-old pilot and his passengers — two 25-year-old men and a 23-year-old woman — walked away from the plane. Their identities were not immediately released.

The pilot had minor cuts and bruising to a leg.

“It’s amazing … it’s amazing,” Perth District police inspector Bill Todd said. The plane was returning from a trip to Geraldton, in northwest Australia.

Neil Warner, who moved to the neighborhood last week, watched the drama unfold from his window.

“We were hanging up curtains and heard a couple of almighty bangs and out the window there’s an aircraft on its wings in the block next door. Surreal,” Warner said.

“Three people got out of the plane and they were pulling the pilot out when I got there. He was OK. Shocked, but OK. It’s an unusual way to meet the neighbors,” he said.