Skydive instructor speaks about emergency landingPosted: 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.