Barnstormer

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

Around 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, something very unusual and unexpected disrupted a quiet farm a few minutes east of Stevens Point.

"I was in the barn finishing chores and I heard somebody yelling," said Rose Brilowski, a Stevens Point farmer.

The yelling was coming from a pilot who was forced to pick a very unusual spot to land his homemade aircraft.

"And I went up to him and he says, 'can I use your phone? I just landed in your field," said Brilowski.

The land around Stevens Point offers a lot to the people that live here. There's the fertile fields, open pastures, farms dotting the landscapes and the occasional makeshift runway.

The plane was built and flown by its pilot, John Van Wagenen, who says his engine quit on him at nearly 1,500 feet above the ground. Knowing he wouldn't make it back to the airport, Van Wagenen spotted a field and safely landed his plane there, avoiding injury to himself or any of the cows that often graze on the temporary runway.

He wasn't able to avoid the shocked reaction she got from the Brilowski family, most of whom say they can still hardly believe a pilot chose their field for an emergency landing.

"No, not an airplane, not in the cow pasture behind the barn," said Brilowski.

The plane's owner says he plans on fixing his craft in the field and flying it back to the Stevens Point Airport.


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