A Florida pilot was forced to land a small airplane in a cotton field just outside of Metter Thursday after his engine failed.
The pilot, James Guldi of Pt. Orange. Fla. wasn’t injured in the “off runway landing,” said Candler County Sheriff’s Capt. Justin Wells.
Guldi had flown from Daytona, Fla. and stopped at the Metter Airport to refuel, then encountered engine trouble when he took off again, he said.
Tracie Johnson was helping her husband Jamie harvest cotton in one of their fields off Salem Road near the Metter city limits around 12:30 p.m. Thursday when her husband, on a cotton picker, called her. She was on a tractor mowing cotton stalks after he harvested the crop, she said.
Jamie Johnson first noticed “cotton flying and dust going up” and then saw the small plane on the ground. The couple were surprised when Guldi “stepped out of the plane and wasn’t hurt at all,” Tracie Johnson said.
Guldi was not reachable for comment Thursday.
The pilot told the Johnsons he stopped for fuel, then took off from the airport to fly only a short distance when the engine “just quit,” she said.
Seeing a plane land in your field isn’t something you see every day, Johnson said.
“He told us he was going to land in another field, but there was (an irrigation) pivot,” she said. “Turns out it was another of our fields.”
The plane suffered minimal, if any damage, and the cotton crop didn’t suffer too much either, she said. “He landed about 50 yards from the cotton picker. He didn’t do a whole lot of damage.”
Johnson said Guldi told her he had experienced crash landings such as this one “six or eight times” and he did not appear to be rattled by the unexpected landing.
Candler County Sheriff’s incident reports were incomplete at Herald press time and further information was unavailable Thursday.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.