By Alex Haglund
Whatever Sherry Bartnicki expected when she answered the door on Monday, around 12 p.m., it probably wasn’t a man who had just taken his plane in for an emergency landing on the highway.
Bartnicki was babysitting her granddaughter and grandson at their home on DuBois Blacktop Road between St. Rt. 127 and U.S. Highway 51 when John Bertam, of Belleville, came to her door. He had engine trouble and took his plane, a Flight Design CTSW light sport aircraft, in for an emergency landing on DuBois Blacktop.
“I was surprised when I saw the plane sitting in the driveway here,” Bartnicki said.
“I just got it out of its annual inspection,” said Bertram. He said that he kept losing power and took the plane in for a landing.
Bertram hangars the plane in Sparta, but his dealer, and the only mechanic certified to work on the two seat composite craft is Tom Baker, owner of CT Sales of Southern Illinois out of the Olney/Noble Airport.
Bertram was flying back from his maintenance appointment in Olney to Sparta when the trouble happened. After landing, his wife, Mary Ellen came out to where he was.
“I just got into Nashville on 127 when he called me,” said Mary Ellen. She had dropped him off in Olney and was headed back to Sparta by car when he called.
Baker drove out to where Bertram was and, “he just found a blockage in the carburetor,” said Bertram, adding, “he is an excellent mechanic.” Baker said that he would probably recommend the plane be towed back to the shop, just to be safe.
Bertram was uninjured in the landing and there was no damage done to the plane.