Professor lands small plane on Adams County road after engine failure

No injuries, no damage

BENNETT, Colo. - The pilot who landed a single engine plane on a road in Adams County is a local aviation professor.

Tonya Gatlin is a teacher at Metro State and the woman who helped train Colorado astronaut Steve Swanson, who is now aboard the International Space Station. She worked as an astronaut trainer at Johnson Space Center in Houston.  

Gatlin is also a flight instructor and credits Sunday's safe landing on Highway 79 to training and instinct from emergency training drills over the years. It was the first time she's ever hand to land on a highway.  

She was flying the Piper PA-28RT with the plane's owner from Front Range Airport to Akron, Colorado where she did a-touch-and-go and flew back to Front Range Airport. 

She was in the air for one hour and 15 minutes when she was cleared to land. That's when the engine started sputtering about 10 miles out on final approach.  The engine didn't completely die -- it just kept sputtering and wouldn't produce any power. She said the plane had plenty of gas.

She landed on the highway without incident and taxied onto a cleared area next to the highway.

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