Air Force praises Conroe emergency landing pilot

January 5, 2012 2:47:51 AM PST
Witnesses say an emergency landing on a Conroe city street on Tuesday night could have been much worse. And now we're learning more about the young pilot who made the amazing landing that may have saved lives, starting with her own.

The young pilot took off from West Houston Airport on Tuesday night en route to Lone Star Executive Airport for a nighttime landing. But about six miles before reaching her destination, the engine stalled and she set the plan down on a Conroe street with anyone getting hurt.

Cables still dangle from a utility pole in downtown Conroe after an errant single-engine Cessna made an emergency landing just before 10pm Tuesday in the middle of East Davis Street near Sixth.

"As you can see, all she did was run into this pole," witness Jennifer Freeman said.

Freeman works at the car dealer, where the Cessna finally stopped. Twenty-two-year-old Sarah Rovner, a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol was training Tuesday night. She was about six miles away from the Lone Star Executive Airport for a nighttime landing when the engine failed.

"She is doing fine. She is a very composed young lady," Lt. Col. Bob Beeley said.

Beeley says the plane is owned by the Air Force and the Civil Air Patrol not only trains pilots but, as an auxiliary unit for the Air Force, performs searches and rescues across the country.

"We are credited with saving 80 lives last year from search and rescue, throughout the United States," Beeley said.

The Cessna now sits at the Conroe airport with its wing snapped off and windshield busted as the National Transportation Safety Board conducts an investigation.

Ravner has had her license for about three months and accrued less than a 100 hours of flight time, but was still able to pull off an emergency landing that would be tough for even a veteran pilot.

"It could have been much worse. She could have hurt herself, she could have hurt someone else, we could have had more damage," Freeman said.

Ravner is not authorized to speak to the media until she gives an official statement about the emergency landing.