NEAR ST. CLOUD, Minn. - A Michigan pilot carrying two passengers mistakenly landed on Benton County Road 90, northwest of the St. Cloud Regional Airport, this afternoon.
Bruce Deckinga, 67, of Petoskey, Mich., intended to land at the local airport to refuel for his flight back to Michigan. But because of unfavorable weather confused the road for the airstrip.
According to Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott, Deckinga approached the airport from the northwest but undershot the runway and set the plane down on Benton County Road 90 before finishing the landing on 40th Avenue just into Sherburne County.
"The weather was less than ideal for flying," said Deckinga, who has been flying for 41 years. "I thought the road was the strip."
Helen Schommer and her father, Stu McDowall, were coming back from lunch at the nearby Coyote Moon Grille when they saw some action at the airport.
"All of the lights were going off at airport. We knew something was going on. We saw (the plane) on the road," Schommer said.
Deckinga and his passengers flew in from Pierre, S.D., and were headed back to Michigan. No one was injured.
The plane remained on the road for a few minutes before they began to move it, Deckinga said.
The plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, was pushed onto the airport grounds through gate 13 by eight men, including the pilot and his passengers.
Deckinga will be grounded in St. Cloud for the night while the Flight Standards District Offices checks the plane. Deckinga expects to be back in the air and on his way home Wednesday.
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