The engine on Will Johnson's float-equipped Cessna 206 cut out a thousand feet above the tree-studded tundra near McGrath. The plane started losing altitude.
Johnson let it.
The 66-year-old commercial pilot knew enough to push the plane's nose down and let gravity take over.
He looked for a place to land in the rugged terrain near the headwaters of the Innoko River. Avoid ravines, Johnson told himself. Stay out of dense trees. Among the stunted stands of black spruce, a thinner patch came into view. Johnson pointed the plane that way.
Trees slapped the Cessna's wings. The floats dragged in the tundra. The plane slowed, then stopped.
Johnson landed without a scratch. His motion-triggered Emergency Locator Transmitter didn't even go off. The plane's wing sustained some damage, but the fuselage and floats held just fine.
"The most difficult part was walking out," he said Thursday from Fairbanks. "It was a very gentle landing."
Johnson used an array of aviation-safety technology to alert authorities and family members to the Aug. 23 accident just before 5 p.m. Then, with the help of an Alaska Wildlife Trooper, he picked a route across spongy tundra to a dirt road less than two miles away.
He was in McGrath by 10:30 that night.
Read the whole story here.