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Instructor had 14 seconds to land plane in Traverse City

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A flight instructor had 14 seconds to safely land a plane after its engine died during its final approach, preliminary fact-finding by Federal Aviation Administration investigators indicates.

The crash landing sent the Northwestern Michigan College training plane into a backstop at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center’s athletic fields Tuesday, college spokeswoman Diana Fairbanks said.

Air traffic controllers cleared the flight for landing at Cherry Capital Airport just before 5 p.m., she said. They were returning from Gaylord.

The instructor radioed controllers again after the plane’s engine started slowing down, Fairbanks said. He took control of the single-engine Cessna from a student pilot after seeing the revolutions per minute drop and the engine started to sputter and choke, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported Friday.

The names of the flight instructor and student pilot haven’t been released.

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