By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
INGALLS, Ind. —
Vincent Miele’s 46th birthday will almost certainly become the stuff of family legend.
The one where the Bridgeport, W.Va., man cheated death.
The one where the engine of his 1991 Beechcraft Bonanza suddenly conked out at 5,000 feet.
The one where he didn’t land at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport in Fishers as planned, but set down in Bob Ellis’ corn field instead.
And walked away unscathed.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Miele took off from North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport, just before 7 a.m. for the one-hour, 49-minute flight to Metropolitan, according to his flight plan.
He was traveling to Indianapolis for a business meeting, and planned to fly out again mid-afternoon.
About 8:30 a.m., Miele said he was beginning his approach to Metropolitan.
Indianapolis air traffic controllers directed him to descend to 3,000 feet from 8,000 feet.
While descending to 5,000 feet, his airplane’s engine quit.
Miele said he went through the prescribed restart procedures without success.
Controllers suggested two alterative airports where he might land, but Miele decided he didn’t have enough altitude or speed to make it.
He declared an emergency, lowered the bonanza’s landing gear and searched for an open field to make a “dead-stick” landing.
Miele found one in the 6400 block of West County Road 1050 South, Ellis’ Triple E Farm.
An hour after his forced landing, Miele, who earned his pilot certificate six years ago and his instrument rating last year, was still too pumped with adrenaline to talk in any detail about the experience.
Sitting in a Madison County Sheriff’s Department cruiser in the field, the married father of a young daughter still had not reached his wife to tell her of the emergency landing.
The immediate tasks ahead were contacting his insurance company, meeting with Federal Aviation Administration officials, and figuring out how to get his plane out of the field.
Ellis said the aircraft was finally trucked out on a flatbed early Wednesday evening.
“I reminded the pilot that any landing you walk away from is a good landing,” said Ellis, who is also a pilot. “I think he needed to hear that.”
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