By Connie Tabbert
Foresters Falls – The question Saturday morning and into the afternoon was what is an airplane doing in the Ferguson hay field on Queens Line?
The answer is simple, but wasn’t known by many for quite some time.
Scott Bennett recalled what around 11 a.m.,
“I was feeding these guys (pointing to some calves) and saw a flash of a white wing dip down over your corn field. I didn’t know if it crashed or not,” referring to the reporter’s field kitty corner to where he lives.
“What the **** was that? I didn’t hear a crash, but something went down in that hay field.”
He jumped into his truck and drove over, happy to see the plane hadn’t crashed, but noticed it was yellow, not white. Looking at the plane though, he saw the wing was white, which he realized was what he saw. However, he admits, he did not see the plane in the sky, just the white as it went over the hayfield.
His parents, Sue and Dale Bennett, who live across the road from him, said they hadn’t heard or seen a thing, but were outside at the time. Mrs. Bennett said they had farm equipment operating at the time, figuring that drowned out the plane’s noise.
Scott said the pilot had about a gallon of fuel left and was worried he might not make it to the Bruce McPhail Memorial Airport, just a few kilometres east of Cobden.
“(Maurice, the pilot) didn’t want to chance not having a place to land, because he only had one gallon of fuel left,” Mr. Bennett said. “(The pilot) said he knew the field was rough, but didn’t want to chance running out of fuel.”
Scott and Maurice returned to his home where he grabbed a gas can and they went to the Pembroke airport to get fuel, since they weren’t sure if Cobden airport was open. Just to make sure the pilot had enough to get to the airport, the attendant gave them another gas can filled with fuel.
The pilot, who had built the plane himself, was returning home to Edmonton, Alberta after visiting family in New Brunswick.
Scott said no one else stopped while he was at the plane, but he did call his mom. They came over and then Dale returned home to get a tractor so he could pull out a fence post, which was in the way of Maurice getting the plane out of the hay field and onto Kohlsmith Road, where it taxied and flew off towards Pembroke.
After posting the pictures on Facebook, Scott said many people wrote they wondered why the plane was sitting in the field.
Maurice put the fuel into the tank, taxied out of the field and up Kohlsmith Road, on his way to the Pembroke airport.
“This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” Scott said.
Sue said Maurice wouldn’t give them his last name, saying, “You won’t remember it anyways.”
She said the wind picked up while Maurice was flying, which caused him to use more fuel than expected. He had enough fuel each time to fly two-and-a-half hours, but this time, the wind caused him to be short.
Sue said the cockpit of the plane was “so tiny. He put the gas can back in and there wasn’t much room for anything else.”
She recalled that Maurice had said he wasn’t sure where the Cobden airport was, that’s why he figured he would land in a hay field, but didn’t realize it would be such a rough landing.
Since Maurice couldn’t get into the air from the hayfield, it was necessary to remove a fence post to allow him to get the plane onto Kohlsmith Road.
Sue and her husband were parked crossways on Kohslmith Road at Blind Line to prevent traffic going towards the taxiing plane while Scott blocked Kohlsmith at the Queens Line with the tractor.
“A grandpa and his grandson were coming from the landfill,” she said. “I said to the young lad, I bet you didn’t think you’d see an airplane taxiing while you were going home from the landfill.”
While watching the plane coming towards them, Mrs. Bennett said they were considering moving their truck, since it seemed the plane didn’t have enough room…but it did.
“We’ve helped stranded motorists before; it’s kind of neat to help a stranded pilot,” Mrs. Bennett said.