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Pilot recalls harrowing moments he, his wife and three children made emergency landing near Rock Springs

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 23:25:00-05

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. -- A Heber Family is safe at home after a wild 24 hours. Monday night they had to make an emergency landing in the middle of the Wyoming Desert and wait hours for rescue crews in the freezing cold.

“We were extremely blessed to be able to make it out like that,” said Eric Holt, who was flying the plane.

The family of five, complete with 2-year-old twins and a 2-week-old baby were making their way from Nebraska, home to Heber. When they hit an unexpected headwind, Eric decided to stop for fuel in Rock Springs, but the tank was already too low.

“It started sputtering so I switched fuel tanks that one kicked back on for 10-15 seconds and that one started sputtering as well,” Holt said.

Eric's heart dropped and so was his plane.

“The first few seconds were just, 'oh crap, this plane is no longer working,'” Holt said.

His young family was worried about their fate.

“My wife asked me over the headset and she said, 'are we going to make it to the airport?' And I told her no,” Holt said.

So the family did the only thing they could and braced for a bumpy landing.

“I picked a spot, I went for it and I landed as best as I could, and I’m amazed how well the plane is intact. There doesn't seem to be any damage I can see right now,” Holt said.

Holt says that's thanks to the several feet of snow, but because temperatures were 10 degrees below zero, it was waiting for rescue crews, in the remote area, that was the scary part.

“We decided it's warm in the airplane for the moment, we're going to keep the door closed. We're going to stay put and keep as warm as possible,” Holt said.

For more than three hours, the family waited not knowing how crews would get to them. Finally, from inside the plane, they heard a medical helicopter landing.

“The pilot took the coat off his back and hat and put it on my wife. Nothing gratitude for everyone,” Holt said. “It's been an absolutely amazing 24 hours and we're so grateful to be alive and for the kindness everyone has shown us."

That plane is still out there, and Eric’s not sure how long it will be there, or how they will get it out, but at this point, all that matters is they are safe.