Anti-Clinton Senator's
Airplane Propeller Falls Off...Hmm
- Senator Lands Safely
Sen. Jim Inhofe, a pilot for 41 years, made an emergency landing early Saturday after the propeller fell off his airplane.
Inhofe, R-Okla., was not injured, but his single-engine airplane was slightly damaged, press secretary Danny Finnerty. Inhofe was alone in the aircraft.
Inhofe said he glided for about eight miles before landing the plane at Claremore Airport. He said he took off from Ketchum, where he keeps his 1979 Grumman Tiger, and had been in the air about 10 minutes when trouble began.
``I noticed a vibration,'' he said, then heard a pop as the propeller dropped off.
The plane became tail heavy and he knew it would be difficult landing, he said. ``I wasn't sure I could make it,'' he said.
Inhofe, an experienced, commercially rated pilot, was en route from northeastern Oklahoma to Oklahoma City, where he was to meet President, who was touring tornado-ravaged parts of central Oklahoma.
Finnerty said the FBI has been asked to investigate because ``propellers don't just fly off airplanes every day.''
The propeller was found on a county road about four miles from the airport by G.W. Curtis, who graduated from Central High School in Tulsa with Inhofe. Curtis returned the propeller to Inhofe at the airport.
Inhofe Crashes On Way To OC
By Ashley Parrish
Tulsa World Staff Writer
CLAREMORE -- G.W. Curtiss has a pasture on the outskirts of Claremore.
And Sen. Jim Inhofe was looking for one Saturday morning when his plane lost a propeller over the area and he needed to make a crash landing.
Luckily, Inhofe wasn't reacquainted with Curtiss, his former high school classmate, in the pasture. Inhofe's plane, which started sputtering over Curtiss' house, made it safely to a nearby airport.
But the two met again anyway.
Inhofe, an experienced pilot, lost the propeller over the road to Curtiss' house. With a U.S. senator involved, the FBI came to investigate the crash, but needed to see the propeller.
When Curtiss found it, he called the airport and was put in touch with his former classmate.
Without a propeller on his single-engine GA Tiger, Inhofe had to cut the engine and started looking for a place to land.
He managed to glide all the way to Claremore Municipal Airport, miles away from Curtiss' pasture.
He stopped just inches from the runway, nose first. His personal plane lost a nose wheel in the crash and looked a little crumpled. But all in all, it was a lucky landing.
The FBI sent a small army of investigators to inspect the plane and the propeller.
"Being an accident with a U.S. senator, we wanted to make sure it was an accident," said Mickey Hawkins, a senior supervisory agent.
Inhofe took off from his property in Delaware County, he said, although his plane is usually stored at Tulsa's Riverside Airport.
Apart from a usual crew, there aren't too many people with access to his plane, he said. But he wanted every avenue explored.
"I've never heard of a propeller falling off a modern aircraft before," Inhofe said.
Claremore pilots who wandered around the plane Saturday afternoon admired Inhofe's skill.
"My kid can ride with him any time," said Bill Kendrick, a member of the Oklahoma Aeronautics and Space Commission who has a hangar at the Claremore airport.
Inhofe did everything right, and that is why the crash wasn't worse, he said.
When Curtiss told his wife about finding the propeller, she said it was probably from the plane she had seen "spittin' and sputterin' ." And when he called the airport, they immediately put Inhofe on the line.
"That's the story," Inhofe told reporters. "G.W. Curtiss found it. We were in the class of '53 together at Central High School."
Curtiss told him where he found it, and "he wanted to know if I would bring it over," Curtiss said. "He was tickled to death that it didn't hit anyone."