Beech Debonair Pilot Makes Successful Emergency Landing

Engine failure forces pilot to land on a California highway.

This morning, John Mares has the answer to one question pilots ask themselves all the time: How would I react if the engine quit in flight? The Redondo Beach, California, resident successfully landed his 1961 Beech Debonair (N425T), rolling out on a grass highway median after an engine failure at around 3,500 feet.

According to news reports, he had just replaced the engine and was on a post-maintenance test flight when a suspected fuel pump failure led to the emergency landing.

Mares, the sole occupant, was uninjured and the airplane undamaged. He’s owned the airplane since 2003, and had departed from nearby Rio Linda Airport (L36). The emergency landing was on Highway 65 in Rocklin, California.

At press time, the FAA was evaluating whether repairs could be made and the airplane flown off the highway. Plans were in place for the California Highway Patrol to close off a section of the highway long enough for Mares to take off.

A pilot for 35 years, he told news reporters, "[An emergency landing is] something you train for, practice for. When it actually happens, all that training comes back." Follow this link to a television news report of the incident.