TOWN OF RIPON, Wis. (WFRV) – Thursday afternoon, Pat Conlon and his family set to work clearing up debris left behind by storms the night before.
“We were out here cleaning up storm damage,” Conlon told Local 5. “We didn’t have a lot of house damage from the storm, just mainly trees and some outbuildings.”
What they didn’t know is that another crisis was coming their way.
“Every plane going to EAA flies over our house,” Conlon said, “so we’re pretty used to it. One coming over, it was pretty definite he was having engine trouble. The engine was cutting out.”
That plane was piloted by Justin Click of Hobart, Indiana.
“We were at 1,800 feet,” Click recalled, “and next thing you know, the engine sputtered and died. [I] tried to start it back up, but it wouldn’t start, so [I] made the decision to land in the field.”
That decision brought the 1933 Stinson into the field next door to Conlon.
“I jumped in my UTV and started headed that way,” Conlon said, “and about the time we got through the trees here, they had already come down in the field.”
Click had made the emergency landing.
“This is what we train for,” he said. “I didn’t have a parachute, didn’t have anything. This is what you gotta do.”
Click says he’s been piloting for a couple of years.
For him, this is a first.
“I haven’t flipped a plane over,” he said, “not upside down.”
The storms from the night before are most likely to blame for the plane’s resting position.
“That’s probably what caused the plane to flip over,” Capt. Howard Stibb of the Town of Ripon Police Department said. “Otherwise the ground would have been nice and firm there, and he would’ve had an ideal spot for landing.”
‘Ideal‘ may not be the word for the situation, but the pilot and his three passengers: his 11-year-old daughter, and two family friends all walked away relatively uninjured.
“He [Click] had some injuries and we applied some dressings right away to stop the bleeding, set him down, made sure he was all right.”
Click was treated on-scene for a cut to the head.
He told Local 5 that he and his group still planned on attending EAA Thursday night.
“We’re gonna go to it tonight,” Click said. “Might as well, we’re already here.”