Originally Published: June 12, 2018 6 a.m.
Iron Springs Road plane crash communication between pilot, Prescott Airport tower, May 29, 2018
Following is the discussion had between the pilot and an air traffic controller at the Prescott Airport. The aircraft’s radio call sign was NI48ME, so the air traffic controller often referred to the aircraft as November one four eight mike echo (or a shortened version of that).
Pilot: “148 mike echo, we’re 13 (miles) out, I’d like straight into three please.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “November one four eight mike echo: Unable. Three right opposite direction. We currently have five aircraft in the pattern.”
Pilot: “We need priority, we’re on minimum fuel.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “Okay, roger that, straight in runway through eight.”
Pilot: “Through eight, thank you,”
Prescott air traffic controller: “November eight mike echo, about how much fuel do you have remaining?”
Pilot: “Uh, standby.”
A minute passes.
Pilot: “We’re declaring an emergency, we’re out of fuel.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “Okay, November eight mike echo, runway three right cleared to end, we’ll have the vehicles up.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “November eight mike echo, wind at two, zero, zero eight.”
The air traffic controller spent the next couple of minutes directing other aircrafts in the area to make way for the aircraft in distress. Then it became clear that the pilot wasn’t going to make it to the airport.
Pilot: “Where is a road at we can take, sir?”
Prescott air traffic controller: “Are you requesting to land on a highway?”
Pilot: “We’re going to have to, sir. We can’t make the airport.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “Standby. There is a northbound road, 12 o’clock, about five miles. Do you have that in sight?”
Pilot: “Uh, yeah, we got that in sight, I think so. Wait, what’s the road and our direction?”
Prescott air traffic controller: “It’s a north/south road, it’s straight ahead, roughly four miles.”
Pilot: “Roger, we should be able to put it down. Roughly four miles, right, sir?”
Prescott air traffic controller: “I’m showing currently 4.64 miles and it’s highway 89.”
Pilot: “Yep, I think we should be able to make something here.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “Okay, we’ll contact the authorities and see if we can get them out to you.”
Pilot: “Thank you. I see a road straight ahead of us right here, sir.”
Prescott air traffic controller: “Okay, um, current wind at the airport 1.90. Landing will be at your own risk. If you can, let me know where you’re landing. We’re on the phone with the authorities right now.”
That was the last word the pilot gave before crash landing. The air traffic controller continued to check if the pilot was on the frequency, but there was no response.
Another pilot in the air then offered to do a flyby over the area the distressed aircraft supposedly landed. It took several minutes for the pilot to reach the crash site, but was eventually able to confirm that the distressed aircraft was on Iron Springs Road about a mile west of Walmart.
“I don’t see any ambulances or anything like that, so I don’t know if they got out, but there are plenty of emergency services on scene,” the assisting pilot said.
“Okay, thank you,” the air traffic controller said. “You haven’t seen any movement or anything from the plane.”
“Negative,” said the assisting pilot.
Airport officials later found out that all three occupants of the plane survived the crash with minor injuries.