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Dickinson family “very lucky” after emergency plane landing

The pilot, John Wissman, 52, his 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were the only occupants of the plane.

Plane crash
A plane made an emergency landing in a field near Regent on Dec. 3.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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REGENT, ND — A Dickinson man and his children were left with minor injuries after their plane hit a power line near Regent Saturday evening, Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner said. The pilot, John Wissman, 52, his 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were the only occupants of the plane, she said.

“He drove down from Dickinson to Mott where he has the hangar for his plane,” Warner said. “They were just going to take just kind of a recreational plane ride back up to Dickinson along the Enchanted Highway. I guess they were flying, looking at the sculptures and taking pictures. And while he was looking at the sculptures, he looked up to see that he was headed towards a power line. He attempted to fly the plane under the power line, but it ended up that his tail got stuck on the power line. And then he said that at about 30 feet, his engine stalled and he had to make an emergency landing.”

She is unsure of the extent of the damage to the plane.

“I can't tell if it's repairable,” Warner said. “But minor injuries was all they had, so they're very lucky.”

The small, single prop engine plane landed in a harvested crop field, she said.

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“So a motorist called it in,” Warner said. “They were on 68th (Street), the plane flew right over the top of them and then he witnessed the airplane hit the lines and then circle around and then land.”

The HCSO has turned the investigation over to the Federal Aviation Administration, which could not be reached for comment Monday.

Hettinger County Sheriff
A Hettinger County Sheriff's vehicle.
Contributed / Hettinger County Sheriff

Hettinger County Sheriff's Deputy Jed Kohler said power lines were down and across the Enchanted Highway after the incident. Montana-Dakota Utilities Company Spokesman Mark Hanson said the broken power line caused a power outage from 4:50 p.m until just before 6 p.m.

“We got the power back on by just kind of switching the feed on our transmission line,” Hanson said.

MDU employees were scouring the area Monday, looking for a fault indicator that broke off when the plane hit the power line, Hanson said.

“If there's a fault in the line, which could mean something was damaged or something came in contact and created a surge, it indicates that happened,” Hanson said. “And then basically, an indicator will send kind of a message back to either the substation or at some point where it'll kind of close out that line so it's not in operation because it's indicating that something's wrong.”

MDU crews closely examined the damaged area, since repairs were made in the dark.

“If they find anything else, they'll repair it,” Hanson said. “If not, you know, either way they're going to get that line back in service.”

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He was unsure how much repairs cost.

plane crash
A plane made an emergency landing in a field near Regent Dec. 3.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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