I-95 near Houlton became landing strip in emergency

Judy Harrison, Special to The County
9 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Pilot Craig Maynard did something Saturday he’d only ever practiced for — make an emergency landing in his 1961 Cessna 172.

Maynard, 56, of Dedham has had his pilot’s license more than 30 years but touching down on the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 at about 12:30 p.m. was a new experience.
His father, Rodney Maynard, 77, of Presque Isle and a former pilot, and his daughter, Courtney Maynard, 24, of Dedham, were passengers in the single engine, four-seat, fixed-wing aircraft. They were out for a “joy ride” when the pilot was forced to land after the engine stalled.
“We were flying around the Houlton area,” Craig Maynard said Sunday. “I’d done a couple of touch and goes before departing [the Houlton International Airport]. We hadn’t been up long when the engine began to get rough and we attempted to make it back. I kept the northbound lane on the highway off to my left wingtip.”
It quickly became clear that he would not be able to reach the airport runway, so he diverted the aircraft, declared an emergency and landed on the interstate.
“Traffic was light but a tractor-trailer driver from Canada stopped and blocked traffic,” Craig Maynard said. “Once we’d landed, I hugged it over to the right so cars could move again.”
Maine State Police received a “mayday” call about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a previously published report. The plane was not damaged but was towed to the airport with a police escort.
Craig Maynard said Sunday that why the engine stalled has not been determined.
His father, who was inducted last year into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame, and daughter remained calm during the emergency, the pilot said.
The family does not intend to let Saturday’s mishap ground them for long.
“It’s our pastime,” Craig Maynard said of flying.
When asked what advice he’d give to other pilots in similar situations, Craig Maynard said: “Don’t panic and weigh all the options.”