Pilot makes emergency highway landing in Swain County

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On July 6, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office posted a video of a plane having to land on the highway for an “emergency landing.” The video quickly went viral with the pilot, Vince Fraser from Florida, receiving accolades for his skills in maneuvering the plane onto a highway. 

Fraser, a Florida pilot with less than 100 hours of experience, was flying an Aero Commander 100, a 1970s vintage plane. Fraser flies from Punta Gorda, Fla., to Lake Wales, Fla., a 227-mile flight that would take around two hours. According to flight records, Fraser topped off his gas tank in Lake Wales before heading to Toccoa, Ga., on July 2. Fraser was originally scheduled to fly into the Macon County Airport, however, his father-in-law was at the airport awaiting his arrival and contacted him to tell him that the weather wasn’t clear and cautioned Fraser against landing in Macon County due to the mountainous terrain and weather conditions. 

On July 3, flight records show that Fraser took off from the Toccoa airport and flew around the Fontana Dam area. The flight from Lake Wales, Fla., to Toccoa, Ga., would have been around 230 miles. Prior to leaving the Toccoa airport on July 3, there are no records of Fraser purchasing fuel before taking off, flying over the Macon County airport and around Swain County. 

As Fraser circled Swain County, a 65-mile flight from Toccoa, he ran out of fuel and is forced to land along US 74 near the Sandlin Bridge. According to the Swain County Sheriff’s Facebook Page on July 3, “the pilot said the engine stalled and he had to set the plane down.” 

On July 6, Sheriff Curtis Cochran again posted about the emergency landing, sharing videos of the landing from the ground and commending the pilot for the landing. 

“We are thankful that no injuries occurred during this emergency landing and the plane is safely back in the air. Thanks for all the help from our partners in other agencies,” wrote Sheriff Cochran. “We have had plane crashes in Swain prior to this but I don’t remember an emergency landing ever happening. This pilot did an outstanding job not only landing safely on a busy four-lane on a holiday weekend but he kept his composure and safely guided the plane off the 4 lane to a safe spot that did not interfere with traffic.  Job well done by all involved.”

Fraser’s statement after the emergency landing stated he believed there was a clog in the aircraft and he was able to rectify it by cleaning out the fuel system. According to reports, he cleaned out filters and opened up valves on both tanks and it fixed the issue. Fraser noted one tank did not have fuel and there was fuel in the second tank, but a clog forced him to land. 

On July 6, the Swain County Sheriff’s Office posted a video of a plane having to land on the highway for an “emergency landing.” The video quickly went viral with the pilot, Vince Fraser from Florida, receiving accolades for his skills in maneuvering the plane onto a highway. 

Fraser, a Florida pilot with less than 100 hours of experience, was flying an Aero Commander 100, a 1970s vintage plane. Fraser flies from Punta Gorda, Fla., to Lake Wales, Fla., a 227-mile flight that would take around two hours. According to flight records, Fraser topped off his gas tank in Lake Wales before heading to Toccoa, Ga., on July 2. Fraser was originally scheduled to fly into the Macon County Airport, however, his father-in-law was at the airport awaiting his arrival and contacted him to tell him that the weather wasn’t clear and cautioned Fraser against landing in Macon County due to the mountainous terrain and weather conditions. 

On July 3, flight records show that Fraser took off from the Toccoa airport and flew around the Fontana Dam area. The flight from Lake Wales, Fla., to Toccoa, Ga., would have been around 230 miles. Prior to leaving the Toccoa airport on July 3, there are no records of Fraser purchasing fuel before taking off, flying over the Macon County airport and around Swain County. 

As Fraser circled Swain County, a 65-mile flight from Toccoa, he ran out of fuel and is forced to land along US 74 near the Sandlin Bridge. According to the Swain County Sheriff’s Facebook Page on July 3, “the pilot said the engine stalled and he had to set the plane down.” 

On July 6, Sheriff Curtis Cochran again posted about the emergency landing, sharing videos of the landing from the ground and commending the pilot for the landing. 

“We are thankful that no injuries occurred during this emergency landing and the plane is safely back in the air. Thanks for all the help from our partners in other agencies,” wrote Sheriff Cochran. “We have had plane crashes in Swain prior to this but I don’t remember an emergency landing ever happening. This pilot did an outstanding job not only landing safely on a busy four-lane on a holiday weekend but he kept his composure and safely guided the plane off the 4 lane to a safe spot that did not interfere with traffic.  Job well done by all involved.”

Fraser’s statement after the emergency landing stated he believed there was a clog in the aircraft and he was able to rectify it by cleaning out the fuel system. According to reports, he cleaned out filters and opened up valves on both tanks and it fixed the issue. Fraser noted one tank did not have fuel and there was fuel in the second tank, but a clog forced him to land. 

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