The pilot of a single-engine plane was guided to safety by an air traffic control crew after his plane's windshield frosted over midflight.
Dan Spangler said the conditions looked favorable on that February afternoon. He thought the weather was nothing out of the ordinary for a good flight, and the pilot wanted to get in some routine "touch-and-go" flights from the airport in Watertown.
"It's a damp, dreary day, but I'm at Watertown," Spangler said. "And all I want to do is take off, go make a circle, land, take off, make a circle, do that three times."
As he took off in the single-engine plane, the skies turned against Spangler. The cloud cover suddenly dropped, and his windshield frosted over. Soon enough, Spangler couldn't see anything.
"When you're flying in the clouds, you see nothing," Spangler said. "You look outside, and it's just white."
Spangler, who has 10 years of experience flying, called for help. He was eventually connected with the control tower at the Dane County Regional Airport. Jack Deutscher was looking after the radar that day and connected with Spangler midflight.
"It's not like a car. You can't just pull over, so you need somebody to help you out," Deutscher said.
Spangler's speed indicator froze, and as he began his descent, radio reception cut off.
"Here I'm flying blind with no air speed indicator, and now I've lost communication. He's going to take me onto the ground," Spangler said.
After 28 minutes of air-to-ground conversation, Spangler finally touched down. Pictures taken after the landing showed inches of ice on the antenna and ice-covered wings.
"And I think that's the nicest landing I think I've made in a long time," Spangler said.
"I had no doubt that there would be a positive outcome, that we would get Dan on the ground. It wasn't anything that I needed to get really concerned about," Deutscher said.
Spangler was back to flying the same plane a week after the incident. He said there have been conversations between him and the air traffic control crew since the avoided crash to make it more of a learning experience for everyone.