Skydive instructor speaks about emergency landing

Posted: Updated:

A skydiving instructor involved in an emergency landing on Route 72 in Ocean County over the weekend is speaking out about his experience.

Tadas Simonis, an instructor and co-owner of Skydive East Coast, was flying aboard a Cessna with another instructor and two skydiving students, when something went wrong with the plane. The pilot was forced to land in the median of Route 72 in Stafford Township.

"When an engine is running, you have a lot of sound and all of a sudden that sound is gone, you know right away there's an emergency," says Simonis.

Simonis says he and the other instructor helped the two students prepare for the emergency landing by tightening their seatbelts and ducking down.

"We made the decision not to jump," he says. "We decided it was best for all of us."

An FAA investigator spent the day inspecting the plane along with a mechanic but has not concluded on the cause. George Voishnis, the other co-owner, says the pilot's training paid off when faced with apparent mechanical failure.

"He did an exceptional job, missing all the power lines," say Voishnis of pilot Mike Barbato. "What we're really happy about is he focused on the people on the ground to make sure they were safe."

Simonis suffered a cut on his arm that required stitches, but there were no other injuries.

The pilot tells News 12 New Jersey the hardest part of the landing was finding a break in traffic and dodging all the power lines.

Skydive East Coast is expected to reopen soon.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."