Kings County Sheriff's Office plane makes emergency landing in Corcoran

Kings County Sheriff's Sgt. Jerry Hunter and volunteer pilot John Voss didn't have time to panic after SkyKing1's engine failed, causing the plane to lose all power.

They made a radio call saying they would be making an emergency landing at the private Boswell airstrip and requested emergency services be sent in case they crashed.

"We're coming down now," the pilot said over the radio. "We're going to try to make it."

The runway was dark, so Hunter and Voss could only use their eyes and the plane's infrared camera to guide them down.

Sheriff's officials say the pair had agreed that if they felt like they could not land the plane on the runway, they'd activate the plane's emergency parachute.

But they were able to make a successful landing.

"At the time, they just reacted to it," said Kings County Sheriff's Commander Mark Bevens. "It wasn't until they were on the ground, and in retrospect looked back on it, and said, 'Oh my god, we're so lucky we were in an area that it was one turn and we had a runway to land on.' Had this been somewhere else it could have been a different outcome altogether."

Hunter and Voss had been patrolling the skies over Corcoran, after being called to help find a speeding car in the area.

The engine failure was sudden, and it's still unclear what caused it.

But what is clear, says Commander Mark Bevens, is that Voss and Hunter's actions were exceptional on Wednesday night.

Voss is one of a dozen volunteer pilots with the sheriff's office.

"He's one of our biggest proponents of cockpit communication, you know the communication between the pilot and the tactical flight officer," Commander Bevens said. "You know if you see something, say something. We help each other out, we work together as a team in the airplane."

For now, the plane is sitting inside a hangar at the Boswell Airstrip, waiting to be inspected by aircraft mechanics.

The sheriff's office hopes the issue can be identified, and fixed so that they can get their sole-patrol plane back in the air.
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