Veteran instructor praises distressed pilot

Pilot praised for safely landing plane along I-10

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - A veteran pilot instructor from Diamondhead is praising the pilot who found himself in distress and made an emergency landing on Interstate 10 in Jackson County.

The instructor says the pilot's quick thinking and training avoided a major catastrophe in the air and on the ground Monday.

Mario Feola has been a flight instructor for more than 50 years. He started his aviation career as a young pilot in the military. He's owned several small planes over the years, like the single engine plane parked in the hanger underneath his home.

"Each aircraft has its own manual, whether it's a single engine like this one or the biggest airliner, the biggest military aircraft in the world has a complete section on emergency procedures," said Feola.

He said pilot instructors are required to teach their students those federal aviation regulations for what's called emergency engine out procedures. They are also required to watch videos on the topic and even train for what to do in the event an engine goes out.

Feola said the pilot forced to land on I-10 deserves a big pat on the back.

"This is the manual for that particular type of airplane," Feola said.

Feola said there is the engine out procedure, which he followed to the letter.

"Let it be known you have a distress situation. See what help is available. Try an engine restart. There is a number of things you go through, but it's all in training like that and he seemed to have done them perfectly. His landing was text book," explained Feola.

Feola said the pilot landed his plane in a lane on the interstate going in the same direction the traffic was moving, and that was very important in avoiding a major catastrophe.

"His touch down speed might be 50 mph. The traffic is moving at 70. He might get hit in the rear if anything, but had he landed into traffic, his speed would have been added to the closure rate of the cars, plus they would have been scattering. Every decision down to which way to land was text book to me. Perfect," said Feola.

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