Global Report

BURLINGTON, ONT. – This is one field trip that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Three high school students from Oakville were aboard a small propeller plane Thursday morning when the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in nearby Burlington.

Halton Regional Police say the Grade 9 students from White Oaks Secondary School were doing aerial observations for a school project when the plane had mechanical difficulties.

The 23-year-old pilot of the four-seater Cessna Skyhawk 172 was forced to make an emergency landing in a large field behind Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School on Upper Middle Road near Appleby Line.

Police say the three students – two male and one female – and the male pilot were checked by paramedics and all were OK.

Sgt. Brian Carr says the pilot did a good job getting everyone safely back on the ground.

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Plane makes forced landing behind Burlington high school

Thu May 5 201119 8 Recommend Plane makes forced landing behind Burlington high school

Plane Lands Halton police investigate a small plane that made a hard landing in a soft field just behind Corpus Christi school in Burlington.
David Ritchie/Special to the Spectator
BURLINGTON A young pilot carrying a trio of Oakville high school students ran out of fuel and was forced to make a hard landing behind a Burlington high school, avoiding powerlines, football goal posts, trees and a group of students gathering for a “Walk For Jesus”.

The pilot kept his young charges in the dark as to the danger as he came in for his emergency landing, telling them only that he was going to take a low pass over a field.

Witness say the plane was teetering and had to veer sharply to avoid the school goalposts before finally setting down at the end of a soggy field near a woodlot behind Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School. The forced landing occurred just before noon, Thursday.

Sean Livingston, 31, a teacher at Corpus Christi, was outside with a group of students preparing for a “Walk for Jesus” when he saw the plane coming in low from the North east. The plane was “teetering”.

Livingston said the plane cleared the power lines on Upper Middle Road, came over the school parking lot and football field. “It looked like it almost hit the (goal) posts.”

Student Stephen Karchut also witnessed the plane’s approach and landing.

“I was on the field with my gym class, all of a sudden I see a plane coming right for us,” said Karchut.

“It was about 30 yards, if that, away from the field goal uprights when it suddenly veered left hard. If it didn’t do that when it did, it would have hit the goal posts, and crashed upon the students on the field. After it turned, it tried landing in the field behind Corpus (Christi – the high school). It landed and spun out when it hit the trees.”

Livingston said there was no loud crash or bang or smoke when the plane went down – Livingston hopped the fence and ran to the plane “fearing the worst”. But when he arrived the 3 young passengers – 2 boys and a girl, Grade 9 students from White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville – were unhurt and out of the plane.

One of the passengers, Matt Skidmore, 15, said it was his very first trip in a plane.

The Grade 9 White Oaks Secondary student was on board as part of his geography class surveying development in the area.

Skidmore said he had no idea the plane was going down. He said the pilot did not tell the passengers what was happening, only that they were going to come in low over the field.

Skidmore then felt the wheels of the plane touch the ground. One wing has been slightly damaged. His mother, Natasha, was also on-scene with him after the crash.

As of 1:25 pm, the pilot was still at the scene, sitting in the back of a vehicle.

The pilot told Livingston he was from Spectrum Airways and that he had run out of gas.

The plane was flying out of Burlington Executive Airport on Bell School Line in Milton.

Did you see what happened or have any information about this incident? We’d like to speak with you. Please call reporter Molly Hayes at 905-526-3494 or email We’d love to see video if you have it.

Hamilton Spectator