A pilot is always looking down and asking him or herself, “If my engine quits, where am I going to land?”

Usually it’s a field, but sometimes it’s a highway, which then requires another question, “Can I land slowly enough that I don’t catch up to cars?”

David Gowan , 57, of Minot, N.D., piloting a Mooney airplane, picked a highway near the Hawley, Minn., airport this morning after the engine quit.

But his plane caught up to a car.

Those slash marks are a propeller work. It can’t be overstated how close the driver — Corey Ernst, 39, of Fargo — came to being killed.

Here’s the official report:

A single engine private plane took off from the Hawley airport heading west with Minot, ND being a destination. At about 1000 feet, the engine quit and the pilot had to turn and find an emergency landing spot.

Passenger in the plane along with the pilot located a clear spot on Highway 10 eastbound at MP 19. The plane made a successful emergency landing on Highway 10 eastbound. The Ford Fusion was eastbound on Highway 10 in front of the plane.

After the plane landed, it caught up to the Fusion. The driver noticed a plane behind her in her mirror as it was catching up to the car. The plane prop struck the rear of the driver’s side before she could drive into the ditch. No injuries were reported, and the plane was pushed off the roadway into a residential driveway.

The NTSB and FAA are investigating. The FAA inspector from Fargo is already on-scene. The State Patrol was assisted by Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Hawley Police Department, and the FAA.

Sometimes, it works out a little better as with this World War II-era plane that had to land on busy Highway 41 in Oshkosh, Wis., back in 2007.

The pilot in today’s incident didn’t have much time to make decisions, certainly not as much time as this pilot in Canada had in 2011.

By the way, you may be wondering why the prop was still turning enough to slash through a car if there was no engine running to turn it. The speed of the plane through the air allows the prop to “windmill” even if there’s no engine.

My airline pilot friends reported to me last week that in the aftermath of the Germanwings tragedy, passengers stepping onto their jets were asking them “do you feel alright?”

Funny stuff.

But an unidentified woman said something else, according to a pilot in the United Kingdom who tweeted her note: “Thanks.”

In light of the very recent tragedy in the French Alps and the loss of those poor 150 people, I feel the need to reach out to you and extend a compassionate hand. At the end of the day, we are all humans just trying to live this rollercoaster of a life we have been handed.

I understand an event so horrific as this one affects those with your responsibility more than others, and maybe sometimes a kind word, random but heartfelt, can make a difference. I’m hoping to create a ripple effect and spread some compassion and understanding.

Thank you for taking me home. Thank you for doing so safely. Thank you for allowing me to live the life I do in Spain and split my time with my family in England too. You make the excitement I feel now to see my family possible. I hope you get to see your families soon. I’ve had a wonderful flight and hope you have too.

You’re making a massive difference and you’re the reason I can smile tonight.

Take care and spread love.

Kindest regards,

Bethanie

An incident in St. Paul Monday afternoon should give everyone who likes to debate the concealed carry law a chance to say, “See? I told you.”

The predictions of in-the-street shootouts when the bill was being debated never came to pass. At the same time, though, it’s been difficult to get a handle on how often a permitted gun was used to thwart crime because the law makes it illegal for police to tell us.

Somehow, however, that part of the law didn’t get followed (Update: This is in dispute. Minneapolis police and other departments have said a section of the law authorizing release of data to the Department of Public Safety precludes release to the public). Police told the Pioneer Press the would-be victim of a robbery near Hmongtown Marketplace at Como and Pennsylvania Avenues in St. Paul had a permit to carry his gun.

The scene, as described the the Pioneer Press, is the rare instance that meets the predictions of the anti-gun crowd at the Capitol.

As the men were attempting to rob him, he pulled out his own handgun and exchanged gunfire with the two men. Police said the man had a permit to carry his handgun.

The would-be assailants fled in a car — and the man got into his own car and chased them, police said. They drove just over a mile, before engaging in a second gunfight in the 900 block of Thomas Avenue.

The man, who was not injured, then returned to the scene of the initial gunfight and spoke with police. The initial incident took place about 5:30 p.m. and remained under investigation late into the evening.

At the same time, it’s a “win” for concealed carry supporters. Obviously, a crime was stopped because someone had a legal weapon.

There’s no mention of whether other people were around at the time of the shootout, nor where all the bullets that missed their intended targets went.

Over the years, the NewsCut staff has lived vicariously through the cross-country journeys of others. Quite often, they’re canoe trips down the Mississippi River.

We also have a fondness for those who paddle against the current, which is why it’s worth noting today that five paddlers, four of them from Saint Cloud, have made it to Minnesota in their quest to travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. They say no one has ever traveled the route in one trip. Read more

With increasing frequency, some large envelopes have been arriving in my mail lately. My mother has been sending me her treasures — the remnants of my childhood. She’s 93 now and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why, particularly since she’s been voicing alarm that she’ll die one of these days and nobody will find her. There are things to do, and, for her, one of them is distributing her keepsakes. Read more