It was an emergency with fatal implications. John Schneider took to the skies en route to Oroville from Susanville Thursday morning, just like he had several times before, but this time was different. "I thought I bought the farm," according to Schneider. "There's not much you can do. Your training just kicks in, and it was just glide, go through the emergency procedures."
Schneider weighed his options, looking for a place to land, but Quincy was fogged in, and the Chester Airport was too far. "I thought, well, I'll climb as far as I can, as long as the engine is running. So, I got up to 10,000 before it quit."
With gliding as his only option, Schneider did everything in his power to keep his Piper Cherokee 180 in the sky, before he finally spotted a possible landing area. "I saw the bridge, and I thought, well, looks like the highway is about the only spot. Hope there isn't any truck, or car."
Highway 70 was free of cars, and Schneider was able to land safely. Meanwhile, Johns Uncle, Jim Christie, was waiting for him in Oroville, unaware of the climactic highway landing. "I was down at the airport waiting for him, and I didn't bring my cell phone. So, finally I called my wife, and said have you heard from John? And she said, yeah, he's landed on Highway 70, by Pentz Road."
Jim, and John both credit John's 30 years of experience for the successful landing. John told our crews "it matters a lot. I've got about 2300 hours, and I fly fire recon, so I do a lot of low level flying." But John admits the conditions were perfect for the landing with light winds, and no cars on the road. Which reminded him of a guardian angel figurine, given to him by his Aunt Irm, who told him the trinket would keep him safe as long as it was with him. Either way, the 67 year old pilot says he plans to capitalize on his apparent lucky streak. "I'm gonna go buy a lottery ticket."