BLACKFOOT — A pilot in an experimental aircraft made an emergency landing Friday on an island in the Snake River after his plane struck a bird.
The pilot, Joel Milloway, of Idaho Falls, was piloting a single-engine light aircraft along the Snake River when a flock of birds came up from the water. A bird struck the plane and and caused a vibration on the engine. Milloway decided to make an emergency landing on a gravel bar in the Snake River just north of Blackfoot approximately 10:40 a.m.
"It was either land on the highway or the river," Milloway said. "It was just a routine emergency landing."
He said there was a lot of traffic on Interstate 15, so he opted for the island in the Snake River.
The Bingham County Sheriff's Office and Blackfoot Police Department received a report of a plane that went down shortly after Milloway's landing. When officers arrived, the pilot was walking around and was not injured.
The gravel bar was approximately 200 feet in length, and Milloway said it was a fairly difficult landing. The landing was successful, but Milloway's plane tipped forward on the gravel, damaging the propellor.
The Bingham County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol was dispatched with a boat and assisted Milloway with getting parts and tools to the island. Milloway repaired the aircraft and took off safely from the gravel bar to return to the Blackfoot Airport.
"It all worked out well," Milloway said.
Milloway is an experienced pilot and has flown airplanes for the past 15-20 years. He said he has 2,500 total hours in the type of aircraft he was flying—a Rans S7—and logs approximately 300 hours each year in the air. Milloway has a hangar at McCarley Field.
Airport Manager Kerry Requa said there has been four airplanes from Blackfoot that have been damaged or have had to make emergency landings this year.
In June a crop dusting plane crashed at the Blackfoot Golf Course. Another spray plane was damaged earlier this year after it clipped a tree and Thursday an airplane made an emergency landing in a field near 350 West.