Fargo couple is home safe after making an emergency landing in plane

The couple was on the way to a wake for a friend who recently passed away.
Published: Mar. 13, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - On Friday, a Fargo couple had a big scare when their plane started acting up while on their way to Minot.

Thankfully, they made an emergency landing and came out with no injuries.

“His training, hands down, got us on the ground safely,” says Jon Shilling’s fiancé Amanda McKinnon.

Shilling has been flying for almost 25 years.

The couple was on the way to a wake for a friend who recently passed away.

Everything was fine until Jon says the plane began to have mechanical issues with its magnetos.

“I’ve had rough running mags before. That’s what it felt like initially. Like I told her, in hindsight, we were just past Harvey at the time. With a rough running mag, you really wouldn’t think to turn around. Had I known what was going to come, I would’ve turned around and landed in Harvey,” he says.

But then things started to get worse.

Shilling says when he realized they weren’t going to make the runway, it was time to pick a spot to land.

“I told him right away, I trust you. Then he said, ‘I love you’ and then it was like get ready for impact,” says McKinnon.

She says her fiancé kept her as calm as she could be by giving her things to do and look out for.

They were too low to pull the parachute, but they were able to clear some power lines and get down to a nearby field.

“It appeared as if we were going to be okay with minimal damage to the aircraft. However, then we hit a small chunk of hard packed snow. At which point the nose dug in and sheared the front wheel off,” says Shilling.

He says he’s always wondered what he’d do in a situation like this, but never wanted to experience it.

Shilling says he was able to rely on his years of training and instincts to make the best decision he could in the situation.

“I wasn’t focused on much except making sure both Amanda and myself were safe. We wanted to get home to my two sons and our daughter. It was my goal to figure out every way to possibly do that,” says Shilling.

They don’t know what the cause of the issue was yet.

“Not knowing exactly what was the cause, obviously seeing the after effects of the oil blown out of the belly of the aircraft. Knowing that the engine had a full catastrophic failure of some sort was calming for me to know that it wasn’t something I had done,” he says.

The couple says its reassuring being able to return home to their children.

“I was a mess honestly. I’m just happy to be home,” says McKinnon

“Can’t wait to see them (his sons) on Monday and give them a big bear hug,” says Shilling.

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