San Juan Island plane makes emergency landing at OLF

A private plane from San Juan Island made an emergency landing this past Wednesday at OLF due to an engine problem. The aircraft lost oil pressure.

A single-engine civilian aircraft carrying four people made an emergency landing at the Naval Outlying Field near Coupeville this past week.

The pilot, Chad MacKay of Seattle, safely landed the Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee just around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning after an oil leak caused the aircraft to lose oil pressure in the engine at about 3,500 feet, said Ed Hartin, fire chief at Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue, which responded to the emergency.

The private plane, which was carrying MacKay, a male passenger and two children, was en route to Seattle from San Juan Island when the trouble occurred.

“He opted to land and shut the engine down and landed at OLF since that was the closest paved runway,” Hartin said.

Hartin said that his department’s emergency units began arriving to the airfield five minutes after being dispatched but didn’t stay long since the pilot had landed safely.

The battalion chief from Navy Region Northwest Fire & Emergency Services also arrived at the scene. The naval fire department keeps rescue rigs at OLF, but they are only staffed during the Navy’s field carrier landing practices.

The plane was five miles from Coupeville when air traffic controllers heard the distress call, said Tony Popp, spokesman with Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

There were no operations at OLF this week, so there weren’t personnel on hand when the call came in.

“They did a great job,” Popp said. “They helped the pilot get down safely.”