No matter what kind of weekend you had, 65-year-old Thomas Koskovich of Shakopee’s was worse.
On Saturday, Koskovich was flying a single-engine propeller plane over Louisville Township, just south of his hometown. It was, by all accounts, a lovely day for flying. The sky was a soft blue edging on pink, the surrounding fields had turned golden brown, and he was alone in the cockpit.
Then he hit a high-voltage power line.
Around 4 p.m., authorities found Koskovich’s plane dangling upside down, seemingly snagged by the guideline and hanging by one measly wheel, like some kind of drunken bat clinging to a tree branch.
According to a Scott County Sheriff's Department press release, the powerline was shut down and responders scurried to rescue the pilot. Miraculously, Koskovich wasn’t hurt. The incident, Sheriff Luke Hennen said in a statement, “could have been much worse.”
Kosovich isn't quite untangled yet, legally speaking. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating his hang-up, which required the combined assistance of Scott County, Shakopee fire fighters, an Allina ambulance, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Valley Electric Company, and Xcel Energy, which was still working on extracting the plane well into Saturday night, according to the Star Tribune.
The accident has since been picked up by national news outlets, with the same cartoonish photo of the plane haplessly dangling from the power line.
Hennen was technically right. It could have been much worse, and on previous occasions, it has been. The ’50s, as MinnPost recounts, were a decade of chaos for air travel over the Twin Cities, with four major crashes, all of them fatal. The deadliest occurred at the top of the decade, when a commercial flight collided with a flagpole at Fort Snelling and subsequently smashed into someone’s house just off Minnehaha Parkway. Two people on the ground, three crewmembers, and all 10 passengers died.
Studies by the National Transportation Safety Board show that the vast majority of fatal plane accidents occur in small private planes like Koskovich’s. If his misadventure strikes us as funny, chalk it up to nervous laughter because against all odds, the man who caused this image to exist managed to walk away from it.