South Carolina

'You don't panic': Couple makes emergency landing on road in Myrtle Beach area

Small airplane makes emergency landing on International Drive in Myrtle Beach

A small Piper aircraft made an emergency landing on International Drive in Myrtle Beach on Friday, April 20, 2018. Donald Crotty, the pilot, discussed the experience.
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A small Piper aircraft made an emergency landing on International Drive in Myrtle Beach on Friday, April 20, 2018. Donald Crotty, the pilot, discussed the experience.

A couple on their "freedom flight" to celebrate retirement landed their plane on an unfinished section of International Drive outside of Myrtle Beach after the engine blew.

"You don't panic, you don't panic," said Sherry Crotty. " You just look for a place to put it down safely."

Sherry, her husband and pilot, Donald, and their dog, Rocky, all escaped injury in the incident. The plane landed on the road near S.C. 31 around 1 p.m. Friday.

The plane came to a stop about a mile from the Academy for Arts, Science and Technology in a section still being paved and not open to traffic.

Sherry Crotty was complimentary of her husband, noting he didn't hit an orange construction barrel that lined the roadway as he landed the plane.

Donald Crotty said they were about eight miles from the Myrtle Beach Airport when the engine blew.

"It just stuttered, shut off and you could see smoke coming off the engine cockpit," he said.

He said he told air traffic controllers about his plan. Around 1,700 feet, he spotted the unused road, which Donald Crotty described as the "safest place in the world" to land.

Before takeoff, and at landing, Donald Crotty said he says a little prayer when he flies.

"God was with me," he said.

The couple is from Pennsylvania but was traveling from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Myrtle Beach and planned to spend 12 days in the area.

Sherry Crotty said the two sold many possessions, but not the plane, which they've owned for 40 years. Both hold pilots licenses and Donald has a commercial license, Sherry Crotty said.

About a year ago, the engine blew and was then overhauled, she said.

The wings will be removed from the plane and the vessel will be taken by truck back to their Pennsylvania home, Sherry Crotty said.

James Major lives three miles from where the plane landed. A friend called him as the plane had difficulty in the air over their homes.

Major, who flies himself and lost loved ones in a plane crash, tracked the flight online as it descended. He initially thought it landed in the trees — only to arrive and see it landed safely.

"It's my worst fear," Major said about watching the plane lose altitude.

Horry County Fire and Rescue, North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue and Horry County Police responded to the scene.



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