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Sun, Apr 01, 2007

Pilot Safe Following Emergency Landing On Mall of America Roof

Pilot Takes In Movie, Some Shopping

ANN 04.01.07 SPECIAL EDITION: A twin-engine plane, type unknown, on its way from Minneapolis' Flying Cloud Airport (FCM) to Marty's Tranquility Base, Prior Lake, (45D) ended up landing on top of the largest mall in the America, with the only apparent injuries sustained to the pilot's self-esteem... and his credit cards.

According to pilot I. Luv Shopn, a native of Bloomington, MN and the only one on board, his aircraft's right engine ceased functioning at 10:03 am Friday. He determined it best to land in an area where there would be little danger to his plane and pedestrians -- which meant nearby Interstate 494 was not a viable option.

"I felt the plane shaking and thought, 'Oh no, I'm not going to make it there," Shopn told The Minneapolis Marketplace-Gazetter. Looking around, he continued, he saw the telltale Mall of America -- which itself is large enough to hold 32 Boeing 747s, inside of course.

Although the gross building area is 1.2 million square feet and the walking distance around one of its levels is .57 miles, it was quite the trick to land on the roof. The parking lot, which holds 12,550 parking spaces, would have made a nice landing site -- but it was full.

"I thought I did some pretty nifty landing to get this baby down safely on the roof," said Shopn. "I even avoided all the air conditioners... though I wish I woulda had a high-wing for some breathing room."

After landing, Shopn opted to"park" his airplane atop the roof, and wander among the 520 stores and 50 restaurants, taking in a late morning movie at one of the 14 move screens. ("Wild Hogs," for those interested.)

When he returned to his plane later that afternoon, Shopn found investigative teams from the FAA, NTSB, the Hennepin County Police, and the Minnesota State Police surrounding his airplane.
 
Shopn, who was weighed down with bags of merchandise he had purchased, was at a loss as to how he expected to get his plane from the roof to the ground, especially with those extra pounds of (Mall of America) cargo.

Officials who welcomed him back to his plane, however, had a plan in place that will put a big dent into Shopn's already maxed-out credit card. By the end of the day, his plane was back safely at Flying Cloud Airport.

Shopn was recently earned his IFR ticket, and has 347 hours under his belt. His flight instructor declined comment about the incident.

His wife also said she would decline comment... until she saw what Shopn brought home from the Mall of America. 

FMI: www.mallofamerica.com/airpark

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