Even for an experienced pilot — one used to flying death-defying tricks in air shows — it was a terrifying experience. 

Stefan Trischuk, an aerobatic pilot from Saskatoon, was bound for Yellowknife, NWT, last Friday, when the engine of his aircraft began to sputter. Then, it cut out entirely. 

Emergency Landing

Trischuk is an experienced aerobatic pilot, based in Saskatoon. (Courtesy of Stefan Trischuk)

"You just get that chill up your spine when you realize your engine is starting to quit."

What's more, Trischuk's GPS navigation equipment malfunctioned and he was too far north for his compass to work properly. 

"I was in a bad situation, with it almost impossible to navigate, and I didn't know how much fuel I had because my auxiliary tank wouldn't transfer," he said. 

Trischuk said his Ultimate Biplane, an aircraft specialized for aerial acrobatics, is not made for gliding, so he only had about 20 seconds from when the engine died to find somewhere to land.

Emergency Landing

Stefan Trischuk's plane being towed from its landing site, on a small road near the Yellowknife airport. (Courtesy of Stefan Trischuk)

He'd practised this kind of emergency landing before and knew what he had to do. 

"You choose the most suitable landing surface and you commit to it," he said. 

The landing surface he chose was a small two-lane road, just six kilometres from the Yellowknife airport. 

"If I had thirty seconds more fuel, I would have made it to the runway," Trischuk said. 

Trischuk said he never wants to experience anything like that again. He said the emergency landing has prompted him to revise his procedures and he will now do more safety checks while flying. 

Trischuk said a faulty fuel line was the cause of the engine failure. 

Despite the close call, it did not take Trischuk long to get back in the cockpit. He was back in the air within two days.