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Hastings men are fine after emergency landing

Two Hastings men landed unexpectedly Sunday morning in a Rock Elm, Wisc., field after their plane's engine failed.

Stephen Weber, 58, and Leon McNamara, 64, were flying from a private airstrip in Hastings to the Log Cabin Airport near Mondovi, Wisc., when the engine stalled and forced an emergency landing in a soybean field. The landing occurred in the southeastern part of the town of Rock Elm, Wisc.

"It was just an off-field landing," Weber, the pilot, explained. "They're not uncommon."

The incident was not a crash, he said. The plane slid about 70 feet before coming to a stop, but it landed upright and intact, and other than a few bumps and some soreness, neither man sustained injuries.

At the scene, Weber and McNamara mentioned to paramedics that they had some pain in their backs, so they were transported by ambulance to River Falls Area Hospital. McNamara had also hit his head in the landing. They were both released one to two hours after arrival, Weber said.

The aircraft was recovered from the field later that afternoon and will be repaired, he said. The plane was an Acro Sport II bi-wing plane with an open cockpit owned by Weber's father. They built the plane in 1992.

The emergency landing was reported to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department shortly after 9 a.m. The search that followed involved the Elmwood, Ellsworth, Lund and Spring Valley fire departments, along with the Sheriff's Department. The other fire departments were called off once the plane was located in Elmwood's fire district around 9:40 a.m.

"The people over there couldn't have been nicer," Weber said of the responders.

Weber doesn't know yet what caused the engine to stall. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating to determine the cause of the engine failure, he said.