DETROIT (WWJ) - A mid-air scare for a former Detroit TV anchorman, as the engine in the plane he was flying suddenly stopped while off the coast of Florida.
Mort Crim, who retired from anchoring TV newscasts at WDIV in 1996, said for the first time in his 60 years of flying airplanes, he had a complete engine failure in his single-engine aircraft.
“I’ve had an engine failure once before but it was in a twin-engine airplane. When it happens in a single engine plane, it gets real quiet, very fast,” said Crim.
Crim was flying back to Jacksonville, Fla. with his wife on Monday after visiting his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren in Vero Beach, just over 200 miles away.
“That’s an easy plane flight, it’s usually about an hour and a half… We had taken off a little before 10 o’clock, a beautiful cloud-less day, a very calm, perfect kind of day to fly up the coast. Everything was smooth, we hit 4,500 feet and just north of Melbourne Florida airport, the engine started to run rough and make some very unpleasant noises and the plane began to vibrate.”
Crim said that’s when he went into emergency mode, checking gauges and levels to determine exactly what was happening.
“I announced to the controller who was working my flight that we were going to head back to Melbourne and make a precautionary landing. We started descending to about 2,000 feet and the engine just stopped dead.”
Crim said fortunately, his light sport aircraft has an impressive glide ratio — meaning that there’s about an 11 mile distance the plane could glide before it has to be grounded.
“We were greeted by a couple of fire trucks and policemen and assorted airport personnel. The big thing was, as soon as I landed, was I obviously couldn’t taxi off the runway, so the plane rolled to a stop and they sent a tow vehicle out to actually put the plane up on a small trailer.”
Crim said he was focused on getting the plane down safely because he knew there was only one chance at it.
“You practice these things over the years, over and over and over, you have the procedures drilled into you so that when an actually emergency like that occurs, you don’t think so much as you react with all of the training that you’ve had.”
In His Own Words: Crim Describes Ordeal
And all that training paid off, as Crim said he made one of the best landings of his flying career.
“It got my attention, it got my adrenalin rushing. I knew it was an emergency that needed to be handled carefully and properly, but at no time did my thoughts ever wonder to, you know, I wonder if we’re going to make it.”
The same can’t be said for his wife, though.
“She was not happy, but she stayed calm,” he said with a laugh. “She said later she was scared to death, but she didn’t want to do anything that would distract me from handling the airplane.”
There was no damage at all to the plane — except for in the engine – and Crim and his wife made it out without a scratch.
“The plane had just had its annual inspection and I hadn’t put four hours on the plane since the annual inspection. It looks like the culprit was a gasket that failed and let the oil… blow out through the gasket and that burned out a couple of bearings and one problem led to another in the engine.”
Crim said it will probable take a few weeks before the plane will be ready to fly again.
“I think the scariest part of the whole experience is going to be when I get the bill for the engine repair,” he said laughing.