LANDON – A story about a very determined young pilot!

LANDON – A story about a very determined young pilot!

In April 2022, Landon Lucas, 19, was recovering in ICU – A year prior to that, at 18, he received notoriety by performing a difficult emergency landing on the New Jersey causeway.

This past April (2022) The Jackson Hole news reported: “Teen pilot from Jackson severely injured in New Mexico plane crash!”

That was just six months ago. Now, albeit still mending,  he’s back in the cockpit!

Landon Lucas, the 19-year-old Jackson native who miraculously landed a plane on the New Jersey causeway last summer, was severely injured in an April 9 plane crash in northern New Mexico. The older pilot, a Texas resident, was killed.  Landon, somehow extracted himself from the wreckage.  This feat was beyond extraordinary given the severity of his injuries.  That he was even alive miraculous!

18 year old Landon Lucas on the New Jersey causeway!

Lucas’ mom, Rita, was driving April 9 when she got a call from an unknown caller ID in Albuquerque. She pulled over, fearing the worst. As the mother of a young pilot, Lucas said, she requires her son to send daily “proof of life” messages.

Her son captured the nation’s attention as an 18-year-old the previous summer when he successfully landed a Super Cub in between traffic on a bridge in New Jersey.

“You always know if you don’t do something right you’re kind of done for,” he told Fox News at the time.

Lucas said her son has “really good skills and really good judgement,” which helps keep her worry at bay. But she hadn’t heard from him the day a social worker called from the New Mexico hospital.

Landon Lucas broke almost every bone in his legs. His pelvis detached from his spinal column. He lost all of his teeth and broke most of his facial bones, as well as seven ribs. Doctors were still determining the full impact to his brain.

It was devastating news, lightened by one word: “She said he was conscious.”

Lucas drove to Afton, where her son works as a certified flight instructor for Afton Air Service. A pilot there offered to fly her to New Mexico, and she’s been at her son’s side ever since, while her husband, Russell, manages calving season on the Lucas Ranch. Friends have pitched in as farm hands and to organize a meal train.

Landon Lucas was in the ICU at University of New Mexico Hospital for 11 days. Within hours he received cardiac surgery to repair the main vein exiting his heart. On Sunday he finally got off a ventilator.

“He has horribly broken bones that they are magically piecing back together,” the boy’s mother said, grateful for the high quality of care he’d been receiving.

Once the word was out, friends, family, and people who didn’t know Landon sent notes of encouragement.  “He can read them,” Rita Lucas said, “and it helps to bring him back.” Her mind is solely on “getting Landon one step further to getting back on his feet.”

Landon was my pal, Dave Jenkins,’ instructor.  Dave owns a condo on the same floor as where Cheryl and I now reside.  We’ve become good friends.  Dave had been telling me about this extraordinary young man who was teaching him to fly. Then we learned of his tragic accident that cost the life of the owner/pilot of the little Taylorcraft they were flying.  

Landon’s injuries made survivability seem doubtful.  Looking back, I don’t know how anyone that knows Landon could have any doubts at all!  

Landon didn’t want to stay in the Albuquerque ICU.  He was able to coax friends to assist in his “escape” and fly him home where he knew he’d best be able to deal with the recovery process.  

Suggestions were made on taking Landon to specialized treatment centers.  One, in Salt Lake City.  In spite of learned recommendations, Landon’s confidence of a home-treatment center was, to him, the best place to recover.

Boy Howdy were those prognosticators off the mark!   Cheryl, Dave, and I went to visit Landon last June.  We were amazed. First, that he was doing so well given the injuries.  Second, that he had an extraordinarily positive attitude.  He absolutely reeked with determination.  But, we knew, seeing how badly he was injured that it would take a very long time for recovery.  I doubted that he would be able to clamber aboard an airplane let alone fly it.  

Now, after seven surgeries, he is on the road to recovery.

“I guess I do have a guardian angel looking after me or someone up there looking after me,” the Wyoming native said.

Wrong again!  That was June, 2022.  By September Landon was not only clambering aboard he was back to instructing my buddy Dave!  I have never seen a more determined person, a more positive person, than Landon Lucas.  

Landon Lucas & Dave Jenkins                                                          with Dave’s Cessna Skylane                                                                         Afton, WY Sept 2022

Get this!  We were going to put together a Go-Fund-Me to help Landon with his mounting medical expenses.  He would have nothing of that!  He’d already figured out a way to handle it!   Step out of his path, he’s coming thru…  GO LANDON!