Metro couple survives close call in crash landing at Wheeler Downtown Airport

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro couple has a new perspective on life after the small, single-engine plane they were flying in lost power and went down, crash landing just feet away from the icy Missouri River.

It happened on Sunday just before 7 p.m. at Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Mo.

Edward Ethington, who flies as a hobby and has had his pilot’s license for a decade, wanted to take his wife, Susannah, up in the air for her first flight with him. It was supposed to be a romantic date night away from their combined six children.


Edward and Susannah Ethington sit and recount their plane crash among some of their six children. The Ethington's plane went down on Sunday, March 1. (Photo: Sean Walshire/WDAF-TV)

“We flew out, did a little flying out over our house and over the Plaza,” Edward said. “We then went over to Briarcliff, did a little touch and go at the downtown airport and just after we lifted off there again our engine started to sputter a little bit.”

He said the Piper Cherokee single-engine plane was a rental, and it’s engine soon died.

“That’s when you just start saying your prayers,” Susannah said. “And I was like ‘Oh, please!’ I was like, ‘God, I have six kids!’ and then I just had to put my trust there and put my trust in him.”

Susannah tried not to panic, as Edward focused on trying to land.

“I was thinking about that, ‘Hey our lives are at stake,’” he said, “and just very focused on, ‘Hey, let’s get this plane safely on the ground.’ And then it hit after. The realization of everything hits later.”

It was a crash landing just feet away from the icy Missouri River.

“We came across the river and just landed about 5 feet from the edge of the berm,” Edward said, “and ended up breaking two of the wheels off and twisted the plane sideways and slid to a stop.”

Both of them walked away from the crash, with Susannah only suffering a few wrist fractures.

It was a close call that's left these parents thankful and focused on what truly matters.

“We just felt lucky and happy to be alive,” Edward said.

Susannah added, “As long as we’re here. As long as we have each other, that’s all that we really care about. That’s what’s important.”

The couple said the FAA is now investigating exactly why the engine failed. It was scary experience, but both told Fox 4 they’re not going to let it stop them from flying together again.