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Pilot feels 'blessed' after surviving plane crash

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SPANISH FORK — Joel Skousen isn't sure how many times he's piloted an airplane and landed safely.

But he certainly knows how many times he's crashed one.

The 67-year-old Orem man was flying his Glasair I home from a job in Las Vegas when the plane had a problem with the flow of fuel, causing the engine to stall, according to Spanish Fork Police Lt. Matt Johnson.

"It's the first time I've done an accident, an engine-out landing to a field," said Skousen.

He attempted to land the plane safely in a field near 1950 North and 300 West, but the condition of the field caused the landing gear to dig into the soil. The plane was completely totaled in the wreck, after flipping and partially detaching the wings, Johnson said.

It's really tough to go through an accident. I'm very blessed. There's no other way to describe coming out of that with only a couple of scratches.

–Joel Skousen, pilot

“When I slowed down to put the landing gear down and went to put power back on, to reach speed, it wouldn’t come back up,” he said.

Skousen has a hangar at the Spanish Fork airport, but he knew he wasn’t going to make it to the runway.

“As a longtime pilot for many, many years, you read about a lot of accidents,” he said. “You're trained to go through these procedures of trying to get that engine restarted, throwing on the pumps, throwing the booster, checking the fuel. And so you really don't have time to panic because you are going through procedures."

Skousen was not seriously injured in the crash, receiving only a few cuts and bruises. He was not transported to a hospital.

"Emotionally, it's really tough to go through an accident," he said.

James Perriton, a pilot who happened to be driving nearby and saw the plane go down, rushed in to help and called 911.

“I saw him turn toward the field so he could make an emergency landing in a field,” said Perriton.

Mike Patey helps with Utah County's search and rescue team and just happened to be at his own hangar at the Spanish Fork airport when that 911 call came in.

What a relief to find the guy still climbing out of the airplane coherent. Unbelievable.

–Mike Patey, witness

When Patey arrived and first saw the wreckage, he thought there was no way someone could have survived.

"What a relief to find the guy still climbing out of the airplane coherent. Unbelievable," he said.

Skousen said he almost can't believe it himself.

"I should be much more injured, but I’m not,” he said.

Investigators took the wreckage to look for themselves.

The aircraft was homemade, built from a kit. Skousen says he bought it about a year ago and never had a problem with it.

He also said there was a moment when he realized he was OK, that he got emotional.

“It’s really tough to go through an accident,” Skousen said. “I’m very blessed. There’s no other way to describe coming out of that with only a couple of scratches."

Contributing: David Self Newlin and Pat Reavy


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