By Neal Reid
Maggie Hearn and Elizabeth Moorman will never forget June 16.
That was the day their training and experience as Auburn University School of Aviation pilots were put to the test with a challenge all aviators hope they never face. With Hearn at the controls and Moorman in the co-pilot seat, their single-engine Skyhawk experienced complete engine failure 5,000 feet above Tallahassee, Florida. The two Tigers were forced to think quickly and keep their cool as they worked to find a place to land without a functioning engine.
The pilots – who were on their way to the start of the 2022 Air Race Classic competition in Lakeland, Florida – found an open field and performed the impromptu landing without incident. Both aviators and the plane were no worse for wear when the aircraft came to a stop in the grassy field in what was Auburn Aviation pilots’ first non-runway landing in 30 years.
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