By Kay Braddock
Bad weather and low fuel provided a less than favorable mix for Montana pilot D.C. Miller last week.
Miller, along with a passenger, flew out of Billings at about 8:30 p.m. on Wed. April 24. The two, flying in Miller’s Piper Pacer, PA 20-150, were heading for a stop in New Town, N.D., before flying on to Minnesota. But when a bad weather report came in as the plane approached Baker, Mont., Miller said he decided to forgo the flight, opting to find an alternate landing destination.
Flying low enough to get better visibility of the ground, Miller said he followed the lights of a semi-truck heading east along I-94.
He was in constant communication with the Air Traffic Control Command Center in Salt Lake City, allowing a flying-over Delta pilot to activate the Terry Airport’s runway lights.
About a half mile on his final approach onto the Terry Airport runway, the plane ran out of gas, Miller recalled. Although he’s had experience landing with a stalled engine, Miller, who received his pilot’s license in 2002, noted this landing was a bit more turbulent.
“I don’t think we had a favorable wind,” Miller said of the landing.
Slight damage was caused to the front, left side of the aircraft, during the landing.
“We were just damn lucky,” Miller said.
After the 11 p.m. landing, Prairie County Undersheriff Greg Huber transported the two to the Diamond Ring Motel.
Published March 31, 2010