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Aircraft makes emergency landing on Big Lake

A small one-person aircraft made an emergency landing on the ice-covered Big Lake Saturday afternoon after losing part of its landing gear. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

The Carlton County Sheriff's Office described the aircraft as a "home built fixed wing aircraft" in a news release, explaining that the landing was planned after the pilot realized one of the plane's two front wheels had been lost when he departed from Fish Lake in Fredenberg Township (St. Louis County).

After originally planning to land at the Cloquet Airport, the pilot determined landing at Big Lake (Fond du Lac Reservation and Perch Lake Township) would be safer. The call about the emergency came in just before 1 p.m. The pilot made the landing at 1:46 p.m.

Nearby resident Paul Carpenter captured video of the pilot making several passes over the lake and emergency responders waited. On the final pass, they cut the engine and brought the small ultralight plane down almost perfectly, with the landing only slightly askew because of the missing wheel and the ice below intact. Carpenter posted a video to Facebook, the landing comes after the 9 minute mark. Find that here: https://www.facebook.com/paul.carpenter.165/videos/512019037779257/

Carpenter said he heard about the planned landing at the airport on the scanner, then it was switched to Big Lake, his "front yard."

"He did five or six very low flyovers for about 20 min and created lots of noise and commotion," Carpenter told the Pine Knot News. "Everyone came out of their fish houses and watched, and police [and fire/ambulance crews] staged at the Lounge," he added, referring to the bar at the Big Lake Shores campground.

The Fond du Lac Police Department, Cloquet Police Department, Cloquet Area Fire District, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and St. Louis County Rescue Squad responded to assist with the emergency landing. The Carlton County Sheriff's Office and Fond du Lac Police department will continue to investigate this matter along with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

Read this week's Pine Knot News to find out more.

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