A driver with a dash cam on the road next to Washington’s Snohomish County (Paine Field) Airport in Everett had what was probably an uncomfortably close view of a fiery forced landing on May 2, capturing a video that quickly went viral on YouTube.
Authorities told local media that everybody walked away after the Piper PA-32 lost power shortly after takeoff, and clipped power lines located (based on a Google Earth survey) 2,000 feet from the pavement of Runway 34L.
The pilot, reported to be a 30-year-old man from Oregon, according to local media, told police the aircraft lost power shortly after liftoff and he had lost too much altitude to make the runway. The pilot reportedly told police he chose Harbor Pointe Boulevard because it was relatively clear. A survey of the area on Google Earth shows no appealing options to choose from when faced with a low-altitude engine failure in the area where the airplane came down, with a dense concentration of commercial and residential buildings, as well as trees, making it a complicated problem to solve in seconds. One can surmise, based on the aircraft's westbound direction of travel and the point where it came to rest, that attempting to reach the runway, or even the cleared safety areas around the runway, would have ended very badly with virtual certainty.
A video interview posted online by a local television station shows a man identified by the station only as an NTSB “agent,” pictured wearing a blue NTSB cap, crediting the pilot with doing a “really good job of getting it down, and walking away, and the passengers.” The television station quoted another local pilot expressing much the same sentiment.
Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio went a little further on May 3, posting a blog that compared the pilot’s “fine airmanship” to that of “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot “Sully” Sullenberger.