North Sound News

Everett student pilot trained for engine failure days before engine failed, safely landed in woods

An Everett man, who is training to become a pilot, had learned how to navigate a plane if its engine were to fail two days prior to experiencing an engine failure, leading him to steer the small aircraft away from homes and land in the woods.


KIRO 7 News spoke with Richard Newman, who owns the plane involved in the crash.

He’s also the president of the Puget Sound Flyers Club, a non-profit organization that supports and educates the youth about aviation. He has 51 years’ worth of experience as a pilot.

Asad Ali is part of his non-profit, he said.

Newman said Ali took off from Seattle Paine Field International Airport in a 1975 Cessna 150 M Model to train on February 16.

Newman showed KIRO 7 News the same plane model that was involved in the crash, which he and volunteers rebuilt three and a half years ago.

“He (Ali) was finishing up his training and getting ready for his examination,” Newman shared.

He flew to Port Angeles and on his way back to Everett, he experienced sudden issues at about 3,000 feet in the air around 5:30 p.m.

“He started suffering some engine power loss, sputtering,” said Newman. “His engine failed entirely.”

“It’s a relatively simple air-cooled engine. Similar to what an old Volkswagen engine would be,” Newman described the engine.

The plane crashed in a wooded area at the Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo, near Seattle Paine Field International Airport, Newman told KIRO 7 News.

“The airplane absorbed all the impacts of the trees he was flying into,” he said. “The wings took the impact. The struts, the landing gear, everything took the impact. And he managed to maneuver the plane right between the trees, so there’s no impact on the airframe itself.”

Ali was able to use his training he had learned to safely land the plane, which possibly saved the lives of nearby families, Newman said.

“There’s residential areas on both sides of the Japanese Gulch lining up with the runway, so he wanted to make sure he was clear of that. Streets in residential areas may be nice but there are a lot of trees, children, cars and wires,” he shared.

Newman said he was concerned when one of the instructors had called him about the incident.

“Oh is he hurt? Newman asked. “No matter what your experience is, you just think someone is hurt real bad.”

Fortunately, Ali was not injured in the crash.

Newman said he left the plane without a scratch.

Newman showed KIRO 7 News parts of the plane after he had climbed through the mud to the crash site.

“This is the left elevator from our airplane that went into the woods and evidently hit one of the trees and was ripped off,” he said.


Newman told KIRO 7 News that Ali trained with a simulator, which trains pilots on how to navigate different types of emergency situations, including engine failures.

“We can make a person’s llife miserable in about 35 different ways easily and teach people how to react to these failures, and recover, and continue on flight and maybe land at an emergency airport or other facilities,” said Newman.

KIRO 7 News also spoke with Monty, another instructor, who trained Ali directly.

Monty had flown with Ali two days before the crash, training him how to navigate an engine failure, a similar situation Ali reportedly faced on February 16.

“I’m firmly convinced it saved him,” said Newman.


KIRO 7 News reached out to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to get more details. A spokesperson deferred us to Seattle Paine Field International Airport.

A spokesperson for the airport told KIRO 7 News the crash happened in the Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo, about .5 miles north of Seattle Paine Field International Airport’s main runway. She shared the following list of agencies that were involved in the response:

  • Mukilteo police
  • Boeing Fire Department
  • Everett Fire Department
  • South County Fire Department
  • Paine Field Fire Department
  • Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office
  • Paine Field (Administration, operations)
  • Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management

KIRO 7 News also reached out to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to get more details.

A spokesperson said the NTSB has not sent an investigator, yet, to the crash site as of Thursday. The agency is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to assess the damage, which will determine the extent of the NTSB’s investigation, the official said.

Newman said he received permission from the NTSB to extract the plane.