Plane stalls, but pilot walks away He lands in a field north of Towson BALTIMORE COUNTY


Charles Schaefer was commuting from his home in Ellicott City to his job in Harford County yesterday when his engine quit.

Unfortunately, he was flying his 1948 Piper Vagabond at 2,200 feet when it happened.

But it was no big deal, said Mr. Schaefer, 47, who is co-owner of an aviation school.

"I started looking for a spot to land," he said. "I found a nice level field."

When the engine gave out, Mr. Schaefer's plane was going 100 mph. He was able to land it safely in a snow-covered alfalfa field in the 5500 block of E. Glen Arm Road, northeast of Towson.

Mr. Schaefer was unhurt, and the plane sustained only minor damage. The only thing Mr. Schaefer was concerned about was calling someone to tow the plane away.

"The whole thing was very minor," said Mr. Schaefer. "Unfortunately, it got blown out of proportion. It's much ado about nothing."

A passing motorist with a car phone saw the emergency landing yesterday about 11 a.m. and called county police, who, in turn, notified the Federal Aviation Administration.

After an inspection, Mr. Schaefer said, FAA officials surmised that ice in the single-engine plane's carburetor might have caused the stall. On the ground, the plane's motor ran perfectly, he said.

Mr. Schaefer had his plane towed to his flight school at the Harford County Airport in Churchville. He said he'd have a mechanic go over it.

In the meantime, he said he wanted to emphasize that flying a plane is quite safe for the experienced and well-trained pilot.

"Aviation is safe and it is sane," he said. "We're not a bunch of crazies up there. We're trained to handle these kinds of situations. Today that training paid off."

And Mr. Schaefer will continue flying from his Howard County home to the Harford County airport. "It's safer and quicker than driving, for the most part. I'd rather be in the air than on the Beltway," he said.

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