Daniel Paternoster can tell you every detail about the emergency landing he made 10 days ago in Putnam County.
What the airplane pilot won’t claim, however, is that he is some kind of hero.
“It wasn’t like I pulled off a miracle,” Paternoster said. “I just did the things they teach you when you get your pilot’s license.”
Don’t let him fool you. He not only did those things, he did them without fault.
Amazingly, the 61-year-old pilot was able to belly land the plane without even activating its air bags. He, his wife Nancy, and daughter Rachel Dudley all walked away from the incident without a bump or bruise.
Paternoster recalled the events of that Friday, Oct. 5, morning during a telephone conversation last week. The family had planned a fun excursion — a day to remember — as they boarded the single-prop Piper airplane in Fowlerville, Michigan. They were heading to Williamstown, Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, to visit the life-size Noah’s ark replica and theme park.
The plane had climbed to 8,000 feet — or just over a mile and a half in the air — when the engine started to cough.
It was time to think quickly and stay calm.
“I started doing my checks to maintain control of the plane as it slowly started its descent. I was in contact with air traffic control in Detroit and then Toledo, then the plane got so low we lost contact, but were still high enough where I could see the power lines, barns and a field below.”
He later learned that rain-softened soybean field had been harvested just days before. It was the perfect place for an emergency landing.
The plane hit pay dirt and skidded the length of a football before coming to a stop. The propeller was bent, the landing gear pretty much destroyed and a long path was carved into the field.
“We got out and walked away from it. A car on a nearby road stopped to see if we were alright. Before long, EMTs and troopers arrived. The Lord was definitely with us.”
Paternoster, a retired veterinarian, has been around planes nearly his entire life. His parents were missionaries in Africa. To make sure their six-year-old son received an education, he was flown to a nearby village to go to school. In all of his flying days, however, he never experienced anything like what happened earlier this month.
It was a day to remember.
ROSES AND THORNS: The rose garden welcomes a juggernaut of sprint car racing.
Rose: To Tony, Matt and Brian DePalma, of Lima. They are closing the doors of DePalma Motorsports and going out on top after setting a new record in the USAC Silver Crown Series competition by winning its fifth-straight owners title this year. In the process they snapped the record of four straight titles won by the legendary Bob East/Tony Stewart Racing team.
Rose: Charlotte Wagner, 73, of Lima underwent a kidney transplant operation Friday, thanks to a kidney donor who was a complete stranger. Anthony Noffsinger, 40, of Findlay, read about her need on Facebook and stepped forward.
Rose: To Allen County sheriff deputies, who wore pink badges in September to raise money to fight breast cancer. They donated $475 to the Susan G. Komen organization.
Thorn: In the middle of the day, a gun-toting thief robbed the driver of an automobile who was making a withdrawal from an ATM machine at the Superior Credit Union on North West Street. The suspect was identified as a white male wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, gloves and a bandanna.
Thorn: A thirsty, former employee of Wally’s Fillin’ Station walked into the North Cole Street and helped himself to a couple bottles of beer. When a clerk tried to stop him, he dropped the beer, threw her to the ground, and left empty-handed.
PARTING SHOT: Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Go into politics and your opponent will do it for you. — Mark Twain
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.