With plane on fire, Wis. man lands in the nick of time

The old saying is “any landing you walk away from is a good landing” but this is about as close as anyone can get to dying in an airplane while still walking away.

In northwestern Wisconsin, the Rice Lake Fire Department, via its Facebook page, said the plane’s pilot, James Kleven, smelled something hot while taking off and he decided to get the thing on the ground.

It was a good decision. Any delay in making it would’ve been fatal.

Kleven tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram he didn’t see the flames near his feet until he and a passenger were leaving the airplane.

Short of a wing falling off, there’s no greater threat to pilots than an onboard fire.

  • It looks like there may be enough left to determine the cause of the fire. Since these incidents are thoroughly investigated, the knowledge gained will be used to make aviation that much safer.

    • jon

      Engines seem largely intact, and they seem like the most likely place for a fire to start (what with the regular cycle of explosions they maintain normally).

      If it didn’t start at the engines, then I presume an electrical fault would be to blame.

      • Brian Simon

        It’s a twin, with the engines on the wings. The pilot said the fire was near his feet, which implies electrical rather than engine related.

        • The fuel line for each engine runs into the cabin because of the fuel selector valve.