Plane loses all power at 3,000 feet

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By Carol A. Clark

Survival instincts ramped up fast for two local pilots when the single engine on their plane sputtered and died.

The duo magneto, which generates spark plug power in their 1976 Cessna Cardinal 177, failed Nov. 9 leaving Randy Foster and Stephen Becker gliding 3,000 feet in the air.

“We were northwest of Cochiti Lake - just a few minutes from home,” Foster said. “We checked the terrain beneath us and it was mesquite and slopes - too rough for landing.”

Their decision to turn the aircraft south began a series of miracles that lead Becker to credit God for guiding them safely to the ground.

“A number of incredible circumstances allowed us to find the right spot to land,” he said.

Experience in their day jobs helped the men stay focused and reject panic. Foster is a captain with the Los Alamos Police Department and Becker works in X-Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

They recalled taking off around 9 a.m. from Los Alamos Airport on a sight seeing proficiency flight that day. Foster was the pilot in command of the flight and said he and Becker traded off control at times.

The weather was beautiful. The landscape was scenic and rich in lava fields. They flew over Grants and did a touch and go at its airport before heading east toward Acoma.

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