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Instructor-Pilot Lands Stalled Single Engine Plane Safely on Palm Coast Parkway

| March 13, 2013

The Piper after it had been pushed off Palm Coast Parkway, sitting in the setting sun as onlookers took in the scene. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The Piper after it had been pushed off Palm Coast Parkway, sitting in the setting sun as onlookers took in the scene. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Phoenix East flight school’s Raul d’Souza is a hero: the young instructor was piloting a plane late this afternoon, practicing emergency landings with a student, when the plane ran into engine troubles–and forced D’Souza, 34, to execute an emergency landing in the heart of Palm Coast. He did so nearly flawlessly.

Raul d'Souza, a new Sully Sullenberger, immediately after the landing. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Raul d’Souza, a new Sully Sullenberger, immediately after the landing. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

With him was Joo Lee, 33, who looked distinctly shaken from the experience. They both smoked, paced, sat, and smoked again soon after the landing. They’re both based at Phoenix East Aviation, on Pearl Harbor Drive in Daytona Beach. D’Souza, who’s been at the flight school since at least 2004, maintains a YouTube page of favorites that includes several video clips from the flight school.

An SUV–or at least a large white car–had to do an evasive maneuver as the eastbound plane negotiated the two rather narrow lanes of Palm Coast Parkway west, and a huge semi, carrying cars, was also on the road; the plane faintly clipped the truck, but managed to land on the road. The truck had been parked on the shoulder, having just picked up a Mercedes from Parkway Self Storage. The plane clipped its left-front guide-pole with the marker light on its left wing, which shattered, leaving tiny and still-visible fragments on the fender above the truck’s left-front-tire. The plane also clipped the air cleaner, which was dented.


The single-engine Piper, built in 1968, landed safely at 6:45 p.m. on Palm Coast Parkway, just west of Belle Terre. The plane sat on the road for less than 20 minutes before authorities and one of the two occupants of the plane pushed it off the road and parked it at the entrance of Parkway Self Storage. The wesbound lanes of Palm Coast Parkway were shut down only briefly.

The plane belongs to Daytona Aircraft Leasing Inc., based at the same address as the flight school. D’Souza had reported engine trouble to the Daytona airport’s tower just after 6:30 p.m. Authorities in Flagler got the call of a plane in distress at 6:37 p.m., when dispatch announced an airplane emergency, describing a plane approaching Palm Coast Parkway from the west, toward the east, and possibly looking to land there. Shortly afterward, the landing took place.

The pilot and his passenger declined to be interviewed, referring questions to their safety supervisor, who was on his way from Daytona Beach. The Florida Highway Patrol was investigating the incident, which it categorized as a crash the moment the plane struck the truck.

Hayden Gordon, whose truck the plane clipped on its landing approach. The dented air cleaner is visible behind him. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Hayden Gordon, whose truck the plane clipped on its landing approach. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Hayden Gordon, 52, has owned the truck since 1999, and said he’d never had any road incident resembling his experience Wednesday afternoon. He’s based in Port St. Lucie. He was on his way to New York City, after starting to pick up cars in Miami. He had three on the truck. “I didn’t really see it,” Gordon said of the plane’s approach. “I was parked here, I’d just put the car up, and I was right here, getting ready to chain it” he said, describing his position to the right of the truck, with the truck blocking his view of the parkway. “Then I hear the sound, I hear it go boom. So when I spin around I saw the plane. There was a car coming. The car went right under. The car went right under it, yeah?” It was a white car. “And I saw the plane hit the ground and run out.”

Gordon ran down to see the pilots, who had immediately bailed from the plane and run to the south shoulder of the road, on the grass. “It kind of scared me a bit, you know,” Gordon continued, after he’d realized what had unfolded, but “they were fine,” he said of the plane’s occupants. “The guy said his engine went out, he tried to start it but it wouldn’t start.”

For Flagler County, this last plane emergency is only the latest in a series, and one of the more fortunate.

On Jan. 5, a plane carrying three people developed engine trouble on its way back from the Caribbean and crashed into a home on Utica Path in Palm Coast, killing the pilot and two passengers. The homeowner survived unscathed. At Wings Over Flagler, the annual air show, in March 2011, stunt pilot Bill Walker was killed when his Yak 52 plane crashed in front of spectators as he was going through a routine. Two months later, John Roderick, a 66-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, survived a spectacular crash in the woods of west Flagler when his plane lost power. And in May 2010, Leslie and John Nixon, Ormond Beach residents on their way to dinner in Georgia, made an emergency landing on the westbound lanes of State Road 100. No one was hurt.

No one was hurt. The plane sits on Palm Coast Parkway West. (c FlaglerLive)

No one was hurt. The plane sits on Palm Coast Parkway West. (c FlaglerLive)


Raul D'Souza, standing, and Joo Lee, kneeling on the grass, shortly after the emergency landing. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Raul D’Souza, standing, and Joo Lee, kneeling on the grass, shortly after the emergency landing. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Joo Lee, slightly shaken. (© FlaglerLive)

Joo Lee, slightly shaken. (© FlaglerLive)


With Joo Lee at the controls, cops and first responders pushed the plane off of Palm Coast Parkway. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

With Joo Lee at the controls, cops and first responders pushed the plane off of Palm Coast Parkway. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Self-storage. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Self-storage. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


The truck the plane clipped. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The truck the plane clipped. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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25 Responses for “Instructor-Pilot Lands Stalled Single Engine Plane Safely on Palm Coast Parkway”

  1. Whodat says:

    God was your co-pilot today.

  2. Um... says:

    OK, so this was near my home and I heard nothing but when my neighbor starts up his truck, it feels like an earthquake. Guess the world could end and I wouldn’t know it – thank you NFL network!

  3. confidential says:

    A real miracle and expertise of the pilot avoiding a tragedy. A miracle because that area of the PC parkway is always so busy with traffic. I use it almost daily. The often occurrence of aircraft accidents all around us, tells us that the rich gotten richer and many more small aircraft are afforded at their disposition now and the consequence is that many more accidents will take place. So duck and take cover.
    Is very peculiar to me that the occupants being from a Daytona school were practicing take off and landing….around here so far from their home base….? Where was supposed to be the maneuver practiced, over our Flagler County roads?
    I know friends doing the same maneuver at the Ormond Airport about 15 years ago and developing engine problem and crashing head on the trees and lucky that after years of painful recovery are still alive. This is why disgust me to see pilots doing stunts over our homes…just head for the ocean instead and do your maneuvers over there,as if something goes wrong will be less victims.

    • Capt Frank says:

      “stunts over our homes” How ignorant are you? If something goes wrong will be less victims, so you just want a plane to crash into the ocean? You should take the time to educate your self about aviation… there are great websites like aopa.org

      Enjoy your day!

    • Gunner says:

      Any pilot doing “stunts” over your home should be immediately reported to the FAA. However I fly in and out of Flagler County Airport on a regular basis and have *never* seen an aircraft over or near the airport doing anything out of standard. There is a good restaurant there which attracts a lot of fly in (and highway) traffic. Both runways are large and in excellent condition; the controllers friendly, competent, and professional, and the airport fuel prices are among the best in Florida. All this contributes to attracting airplanes. Since they arrive from and depart to other areas and are required to take-off and land from ground level, the operations near airports are, of necessity, conducted at low level. If a serious mechanical problem develops there just aren’t a lot of options. The pilot in this case did an excellent job. If the engine on your car quit while you were in Daytona I would wager you wouldn’t coast all the way to your home either. Unfortunately aircraft can’t be utilized in a manner that keeps them over an airport all the time. Doing due diligence when selecting a home site would include making a determination if an airport is nearby and making a decision about whether or not you can live with the attendant noises and the slight risk associated with aircraft operations.

    • Flight Instructor says:

      Daytona has something called Controlled Airspace. You are not allowed to practice anything within 10 miles of the Daytona Airport. We fly outside of that area to perform our lessons. It takes about 10-15 mins in a small plane to depart from Daytona and overfly Flagler county, so relatively speaking, it’s right around the corner for us and is our local area. And when you say it “disgust” you to see pilots performing “stunts” over your house, we are training to potentially be YOUR Captain. Some maneuvers the FAA mandates must be performed over land/fields/obstacles. If you are worried about an increase in the accident rate i highly recommend you and everyone you know sign the petition to keep our local airport towers open that keep us pilots safe (including you on the ground). See link below.

      https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/prevent-closure-air-traffic-control-towers-us-result-budget-control-act-sequestration/3CsfLn46

      As a fellow Flight Instructor from a different local flight school, much respect for the landing.

  4. Freddy says:

    I guess when a plane engine quits it is in a stealth mode. LoL

  5. GB24Hours says:

    I wonder if it will get any tickets from red light cams.

  6. Ken Dodge says:

    Now, if he had both landed and taxied into that storage place…wouldn’t that be amazing!

  7. K says:

    Well deserved smokes to both of these men!! Great piloting averted a catastrophe.

  8. Nancy N. says:

    Wow….congrats to Mr. D’Souza on a great landing. So glad everyone is safe!

  9. RR says:

    First glad no one was hurt or worst.

    Second… Besides watching out for wrong way drivers, careless dirvers, drunk dirvers, motorcycle’s now we have to watch our “friendly skies” for falling objects…

    What’s next?

  10. Anonymous says:

    everyone keeps thinking of traffic,but the biggest issue was the glide path–and power lines,that he narrowly avoided on descent….

    good job~

  11. Joe Urgese says:

    Isn’t that great. They fly 30 miles north to do their maneuvers. Ever try to sit on your patio from 7am-10pm. This is the city of the drones! Constant buzz.

  12. jp says:

    Single engine planes are death traps…..

  13. confidential says:

    To Flight Instructor. First of all I thank you for your detailed and informative reply, as was very revealing for us, the over exposed to air mishaps residents of Flagler county. Hoping your data presented here is correct then is when I realize that, no wonder, I never get disturbed when I stay in A1A in Daytona .
    We should demand the same rule/restriction of 10 miles air maneuvers in Palm Coast as well, as we are as populated as Daytona Beach or maybe more and we are not residents taxpayers of a lesser God.
    So lets start a petition to City of Palm Coast Council for the 10 mile rule and with copy to FAA.
    Regarding not only the annoyance further more the danger, we are exposed with flight Instructors and students overhead in our populated residential areas, that you mention they being our future Captain’s, does not justify it for us.
    Also you forget that some of those same unscreened students can become our foreign terrorist trained in Florida for 9/11? I am wondering still what the percentage of “unscreened foreign students” is for the sake of profit, practicing for potential future events and over us.
    We do have plenty of our air force experienced pilots becoming our friendly skies commercial flight Captains, just in case you forgot and I do not think they need to maneuver take offs and landings or engine kill over our homes after the many hours of flight achieved in the military. We are the only small airport I know so far were the Local County or City Commissioners allow these stunts over residents heads. The rule should be same as in Daytona 10 miles exclusion and practice over farmland less populated west of Rte 1, or over water in the Atlantic maybe even close to shore, not on it.
    Neither in busy Maricopa County AZ with a major international airport and at least one small private aircraft airport or more within county limits I ever experience the annoyance and dangerous exposure that our elected ones probably lobby for and support against us in Flagler County.
    I keep correspondence replied to me in the past by the Regional Jacksonville FAA, the Flagler Airport Manager and a County Commissioner, I ven called John Mica on it in the past when these air stunt abuses were worse here and the issue was partially resolved. But is still an issue in other areas of the city as, I see and the 10 mile exclusion will solve it for good. Who are responsible to instate it, County Commissioners or City Council?

    • Capt Frank says:

      To the commenter above, good luck with your crusade it will never happen. The military only turns out a small percentage of pilots to airlines, they do very similar training we do, with out us your beloved vacation on a airline would not happen. Your idea is flawed! If you don’t like airplanes why don’t you just move, problem solved… DC seems like your sort of place anyway. #airplane nose #flying #wayoflife #crewlife

    • Flight Instructor says:

      To: Confidential,

      The 10 miles of controlled airspace is due to the fact that Daytona has a INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT with “real” airplanes that fly into it. After 9/11 every person entering into the U.S to perform flight training must undergo TSA screening/background checks/ fingerprints before they can get approved. If you stop flight training, there will be no pilots to fill the spots of the HUGE amount that are facing mandatory 65 yr old retirements. The air force pilots have been staying in the military as their main career because it pays better (Call the Airlines and ask them to pay more will you?), there wouldn’t be enough anyways to fill the need. You say you are the only airport you know that allows “stunts” overhead? Im sorry but it looks like your stuck in a egocentric predicament. There are THOUSANDS of airports that people perform maneuvers over in the country. Airspace at most airports only go up to about 2500 ft high, and above that is free reign. Are you saying you want to ban airliners flying over your head because they can crash into your home too? And the FAA will laugh at your 10nm rule, that would require approach controllers which would increase their budget. And if you read my last post, you would of seen the link that shows how the FAA is cutting down and closing towers to save money (exactly the opposite of what you want.) Do you happen to live within 4 miles of the airport? Hmmmmmm…

    • Nancy N. says:

      According to a 2009 USA Today article that I found that was written at the time of the Miracle on the Hudson incident, only about a quarter of airline pilots being hired today have military backgrounds, compared to 90% in the early 90’s. The article blames the military for requiring longer commitments from its pilots and low airline pay for driving military pilots away.

      Another USA Today article from earlier this year says that there are currently around 90,000 U.S. airline pilots and that airlines are going to need about 8,000 new ones per year because of forced retirement age, new rest rules and other restrictions.

      I found a statistic online that says that in 2008 the Air Force had slightly over 13,000 pilots in its ranks.

      You do the math. With those numbers – Supply of military pilots could not possibly come even close to meeting the demand for airline pilots.

  14. Case says:

    I do not fly anymore! I like cheese!

  15. forest says:

    Lucky they didn’t run a red light camera.

  16. confidential says:

    To flight Instructor…I thought so that the 10 mile exclusion could be given the existing Daytona Beach Airport probably you are right there. I stand with my perception that from all the places I resided or working around the country the only one that I have been exposed to just, for fun or training stunts overhead is here in Flagler County.
    The passenger commercial aircraft does not worry me at all. Why don’t you practice your overland maneuvers west of Rte 1, over farmland? No fun there, no one to incommode right..? just the cows/horses chickens to enjoy your air pirouettes?
    How long it will take to have another like this one fall in another Palm Coast home? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/indiana-jet-crash_n_2897611.html
    As for me and for sure…I will be calling writing and complaining to the FAA, Airport, and elected politicians or whoever necessary, every single time you will abuse your airspace over our homes. Don’t you have a doubt! So Captain Frank you can get your advise about us moving away, make a sizeable roll and stick it! I live were I please. By the way the FAA cutting down in towers and service so dangerous for commercial aircraft, is the brainstorm and vote boycott of the GOP Congress and Senate “sequester”. So go tell the wealthy owner/ corporation of your flying toy, to go and convince them to stop obstructionism. Hope the FAA also curtails all small aircraft flights to keep us safe while this sequester is in place, maybe that will make these “tea braggers” see the extent of their stupidity and end their voting boycott!

  17. confidential says:

    Thank you Nancy for the updated data in the shortage of military pilots.
    I had an uncle that loved to do his Yuckcrobaties over our home when I was a child with his Cessna, just pure adrenaline and show off…guess what… he died young burned over recognition inside his flying toy.
    A friend flight instructor and his student pilot in Ormond barely escaped alive sustaining catastrophic injuries years ago over aircraft malfunction while practicing take off and landings. The writing in the walls is all around us and I am just asking for some responsible/respectful flight behavior that is all, as is written on the local airport policy but not fully enforced.

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