Corn softens crash for pilot in Licking County

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — James Baldwin’s plane sits 400 yards into the middle of a cornfield at U.S. 40 and State Route 37.

It’s a small one-seat experimental plane he put down after the engine failed.

Baldwin is 85 and says it was his first emergency landing ever. Officials said he sustained minor injuries, and no other injuries were reported.

At about 4 p.m. he was taking off from the small private Buckeye Airport en route to Lancaster. As he was taking off, his engine started to die, but he was able to give it enough gas to get over busy U.S. 40 and put it into the cornfield.

“It could be anything,” said Jim Carter, a fellow pilot and runs the Buckeye Airport. “Could be the rods, that’s usually when they come apart, you know what I mean.”

He has known Baldwin for years and says he is also an instructor.

“He’s top of the line guys, I mean really, he was just flying and something happened,” Carter said.

Baldwin didn’t want to talk about the forced landing, but other pilots and the Ohio Highway Patrol says if a plane was going down, Baldwin did as good of a job as can be expected.

“We’re fortunate that nobody was injured in this case and that’s the best case scenario” said Lt. Kevin Miller with the patrol.

The time of year was perfect. Corn is at its highest and those 15 feet or so of cushion kept him upright.

“What happens is when you come down and hit like this, the top of that corn will hold your wings up,” Carter said. “If the wheels hit first usually it will turn you over.”

After putting it down, Baldwin had to hike about 400 yards through the tall corn to get out to U.S. 40, and use his cell phone to call a friend to tell him what happened.

The plane is expected to be pulled from the field on Tuesday.

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