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omments 15 | Recommend 7
See video of survivors shot moments after landing
July 26, 2010 07:05:00 AM
S. BRADY CALHOUN / News Herald Writer
PANAMA CITY BEACH — When the engine on his Cessna 172 went out Saturday while he was flying at 4,000 feet above Bay County, Tony Weedn did not have many options.
“He looked at the beach, and there were a lot of people on the beach. He looked at the highway, and there were a lot of cars on the highway,” said Justin Landingham, one of Weedn’s passengers. So, Weedn picked the 17th green at Shark’s Tooth Golf Course to make an emergency landing. He had to dodge large trees and sand traps in order to get the plane to safety.
It was a hole in one.
Weedn, 28, an Air Force pilot, and Landingham, along with 27-year-old Yeshua Goodman and his wife, 30-year-old Trisha Goodman, weren’t hurt in the incident. Even the plane got through it unscathed.
>> See video of the four moments after the plane landed.
The white Cessna still was on the golf course Sunday evening, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, waiting for the FAA to arrive Monday to conduct an investigation.
The group had been flying from Fort Walton Beach to Orlando as part of a surprise birthday event for Landingham. The plane was rented, Weedn said. Everything seemed to be going well until the engine powered down. Weedn grew up in Oklahoma and has been flying since he was 12. He had been taught from a young age to look for a field when something goes wrong and the plane won’t make it to an airport.
“There aren’t a lot of fields in Florida,” Weedn said.
As the plane was going down, Weedn turned to his passengers and told them the plan.
“Guys, I have been training for this my whole life,” Landingham recalled Weedn saying.
“We’re going to be fine,” he promised.
Then he turned back around and started working.
“He was just in command the whole time,” Landingham said. “He was like a rock.”
When the plane landed, Weedn turned back to his passengers again and asked if they were OK. His face had turned white, Landingham said.
“God put us in the exact spot we needed to be,” Weedn said. “We didn’t really jolt around a lot. I thought it was going to be much worse than it was.”
He added that his training — the training he has been doing his whole life — took over.
“Nobody was hurt,” Weedn said. “Praise God for that.”
On Sunday night, the group was back together making dinner and spending time with one another.
“He was perfect,” Landingham said. “I would fly with him again any day of the week.”
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