By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Just days after receiving certification to become a flight instructor, a 21-year-old pilot got to test his flying skills by making a safe emergency landing in a cornfield.
Cornell Ryan Dupill of Murrysville, Pa., said he had been in the air for about 40 minutes when he decided to head back to the New Castle Airport in Union Township at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"As we started to come down, the engine started to sputter and then there was a complete power loss," he said.
Dupill said the plane started to go down when there was a sudden burst of power from the engine.
"I'm just so thankful we got that burst of power. We were heading straight for a house," he said.
Dupill said the power burst gave him enough altitude to clear the house. He flew about 10 feet over some nearby trees and landed safely in the cornfield off of Chapin Road in Neshannock Township, about two miles from the airport.
Golfers on hole No. 15 at the New Castle Country Club, about 100 yards away, called for help, he said.
No injuries: Dupill and his two passengers, his brother, Clifford, 24, and his father, Raymond, 56, also of Murrysville, were not injured. Dupill said he has been flying planes since 1998 and he received certification to be a flight instructor Friday.
Martin Haski of Haski Aviation, the company that operates the New Castle Airport, said Dupill had rented the Piper Cherokee Arrow, a four-seater, single-engine airplane, for recreational flying and was not teaching any students when it went down.
Haski said the plane appeared to have minimal damage, and the Federal Aviation Administration was expected to investigate the cause of the crash today.
Philip Carlo, Neshannock Township police superintendent, said there was damage to the plane's landing gear and right wing.
Haski said the plane will be dismantled and brought back to the New Castle Airport after the FAA investigation is complete. He did not know the age of the plane.