JACKSON, Wyo. — Jackson local Landon Lucas had an extraordinary flight on Monday. Following engine failure, he landed a 1946 banner plane— used to tow banner advertisements — on the bridge connecting Somers Point and Ocean City, New Jersey.
The 18-year-old is spending his summer in New Jersey flying banner planes for Paramount Air Service in order to rack up flight hours. His job runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, flying from sun up to sundown, his mom, Rita Lucas, told Buckrail in an interview.
According to a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the trouble began over the Ocean Casino in Atlantic City. “The engine rolled back to idle out of nowhere,” Landon said.
After releasing the banner, Landon headed towards the nearest airport, Ocean City Municipal Airfield, bypassing an abandoned airport in Atlantic City.
“It’s a lot easier to aim for the airport and actually take off again than to land in an abandoned airport or a highway. The intention was not to land in a bridge in the first place,” he told the Inquirer.
But when the engine failed completely, he saw the bridge as his only option, he said. He saw a gap in traffic and went for it.
He landed in the westbound lane, which is barrier-to-barrier 39 feet wide. The wingspan of his plane is 35 feet, reported the Inquirer.
Following the landing, Landon texted his mom, Rita.
“Landon is so casual about everything, he texted me a photo of his plane on the road with police cars around it and said, “mom I got pulled over,” Rita said.
Another text came through: “Just dropped the carb three miles from the airport, just landed on the bridge.”
While Rita was worried, she wasn’t shocked by the emergency landing Landon pulled off.
“It’s kind of a Landon thing,” Rita said, “His needs have never been met by normal life.”
Lucas started training as a pilot on his 16th birthday, Rita said. “He graduated from college in May, and flew back and graduated high school in June. Landon duel enrolled at northwest college in Powell and at Choice Aviation in Cody.”
An FAA investigation grounded him for a few days, but Landon was back flying banners on Wednesday. ” “He was totally fine, he would have been back up flying the next day,” Rita said.
‘Being scared does nothing.’ Pilot Landon Lucas, 18, describes ’30 second decision’ to land his banner plane on the Ocean City bridge https://t.co/yr7NcZZ4Nc via @phillyinquirer
— Amy S. Rosenberg (@amysrosenberg) July 21, 2021
“Just another crazy Monday,” he texted his mom.