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Delta County pilot not hurt after emergency landing on frozen lake in Schoolcraft County

A plane with a yellow fuselage is shown sitting on the snow and ice-covered surface of Indian Lake.

An Escanaba man successfully ditched his plane Thursday afternoon, after engine failure forced an emergency landing on the frozen surface of Indian Lake.

Mark Meyer, 62, had flown his single-engine plane from the Manistique Airport, and had logged about two hours of airtime when he lost power while practicing air maneuvers over the lake, which is located west of Manistique.

At 3:24 p.m., local dispatchers notified emergency responders that a plane circling Indian Lake was reportedly having engine troubles.

Meyer was unable to restart the engine and made his emergency landing on Indian Lake at 3:32 p.m. He was about eight miles from the airport.

Within three minutes, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Rob Freeborn arrived on a snowmobile. Freeborn rode onto the lake from the Dawson Road access site, located on the northeast side of the lake.

"I could see the plane sitting on the ice, about a half-mile, to three-quarters of a mile from the shoreline," Freeborn said.

Freeborn contacted the pilot, who was uninjured and alone.

Landing in the snow caused the plane's landing gear to break, resulting in the plane sliding on the ice, damaging the main body of the aircraft. 

"We're all grateful that Mr. Meyer's skills allowed him to safely land the aircraft he was piloting on the frozen lake without injuring himself or anyone else, this is the best outcome we could ask for in an emergency situation like this," said Asst. Chief Dave Shaw of the DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Within hours, Meyer's flight instructor used a side-by-side off-road vehicle to safely remove the plane from the ice.

"Our officers communicated with the Federal Aviation Administration," Shaw said. "The aircraft was safely removed from the frozen lake without harming any resources."

Law enforcement officers from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Michigan State Police troopers assisted the DNR.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety, and protect residents through general law enforcement and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

If you or someone you know is interested in a career protecting Michigan's fish and game and outdoor places and the people who enjoy them, consider applying for the DNR's 2022 conservation officer academy. Applications will be accepted until March 31.

Contact a recruiter or learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.


Note to editors: An accompanying photo is below for download and media use. A suggested caption follows. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Plane: A Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer was the first emergency responder to arrive Thursday at Indian Lake, located west of Manistique in Schoolcraft County, after a single-engine plane lost engine power, forcing the pilot from Escanaba to make an emergency landing on the lake. The pilot was alone in the plane and walked away from the crash with no injuries.

Contact: Lt. Eugene "Skip" Hagy, 906-293-5131, ext. 4100