A pilot’s error prompted an emergency landing on U.S. 54 Highway near Iola after running out of fuel.

A pilot’s error prompted an emergency landing on U.S. 54 Highway near Iola after running out of fuel.

Malcolm E. Kucharski, 60, Pittsburg, was on a cross-country trip traveling to Lamar, Joplin, Neosho, and Bolivar, Mo. Kucharski, a PSU art professor, left Bolivar around 1 p.m. with plans to briefly land in Nevada, Mo.

The plane, a Cessna 150 belonging to Jesse Hudson, Pittsburg, never landed in Nevada and Kucharski ended up telling Kansas City air towers that he believed he was over Carthage, Mo. To hear audio from the air towers and plane, click the play button at the top of this story.

After getting low on fuel, Kucharski landed on U.S. 54 Highway near Iola.

“It’s stupid,” Hudson said. “It’s an unfortunate mistake. He left at 1 p.m. to go to Nevada, then the sun got in his eyes, he went to Iola and ran out of fuel. He just made an error.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating the incident.

Hudson said that after fueling up on the highway, Kucharski was planning to fly back to Pittsburg Friday night.

“He’s a nice guy,” Hudson said. “He tried really hard. He’s a conscientious individual. This will destroy his psyche.”

Kucharski was not hurt, and there was “no scratch on the airplane,” according to Atkinson Municipal Airport manager Bill Pyle.

Hudson said Kucharski had completed all necessary requirements to fly.

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.