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Gilbert dental group survives second plane crash in 14 months

Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-21 01:48:37-04

A Gilbert dental group is counting their blessings after experiencing their second mid-air emergency in just 14 months. 

"You talk about one in a million, it's kind of like winning the lottery, but in the case that you don't want to win," said Dr. Peter Spanganberg. 

Spanganberg may just be the luckiest pilot in the state. 

"There are myriad thoughts that run through your mind very quickly," said Spanganberg. 

Wednesday morning he was headed to his office in Yuma, flying out of Stellar Airport in Chandler. It's a flight he and his surgical assistants have made twice a week for the last eight years. 

"In that time in the last seven years, we've never had any problems to really speak of," said Spanganberg. 

"It's always in the back of my head, every time we go up, you think about it," said surgical assistant Nikki Brabbs. "I never thought it would happen again." 

Last August, Brabbs, Spanganberg, and two other assistants were returning from Yuma when the plane's propeller stopped spinning. 

Somehow, Spanganberg was able to glide the aircraft in for an emergency landing. 

His three female assistants propped open the doors to help slow the plane, and the aircraft plopped down in an alfalfa field outside of Chandler

"You tend to feel a little snake-bit, thinking holy cow, how is this possible," said Spanganberg. 

Snake-bit because of Wednesday morning, just 20 minutes into the flight, again the plane they were in lost power.

"It suddenly felt like the engine got pulled to idle," Spanganberg described. "So I kind of just looked back and said, 'Here we go.'"

"We were coming over the mountain, and then we were basically gliding," said Brabbs. 

Cell phone video shows the plane lining up a farm field for yet another emergency landing. This time it seemed like the farm was prepared for their arrival. 

"It turned out, after the fact, I was told by the farmers that they had recently just laser-leveled the field, which meant that this thing was glassy smooth," said Spanganberg. 

"Not even a bump, it was like landing normally," said Brabbs. 

Pictures show the plane on the ground as a farm worker runs to help. Luckily, the plane and its passengers completely unharmed. 

Brabbs says if it was anyone else at the helm, they might not be here. 

"The trust in Dr. Spanganberg is what gets us through it, cause he stays so calm it makes the biggest difference," said Brabbs, in awe of the doctor's demeanor. 

"You definitely do some self-examination, like, did I do something wrong? What can I do differently next time," said Spanganberg. "It still seems very, very unreal."

Spanganberg says the landing did damage some of the field, which he has offered to pay for. 

The NTSB will investigate the crash and release a report in the coming months.