Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Mayday over the Mississippi

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Mayday over the Mississippi

Article excerpt

Q. What was the first clue that something was wrong?

A. The explosion. My number six cylinder blew.

When banker Mick Guttau's single-engine plane lost all RPMs at 23,000 feet in instrument flight conditions, he knew he had a problem. When the second explosion came, and a connecting rod punctured the Cessna Centurion's cowling, he knew he had a big problem.


"It was like I'd taken a 50 caliber round," says the former Vietnam Cobra helicopter pilot.

Guttau, chairman & CEO of $187.4 million-assets Treynor (Iowa) State Bank, was with his wife, Judy at the time. The couple frequently flies to meetings, and this trip called for a four-hour, 20 minute, route from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Washington, D.C.

When the explosion came, about when they crossed the Mississippi, Guttau immediately set up for a glide and radioed an emergency to Chicago Center controllers. He pulled his airspeed back to 85 knots to conserve momentum and gain distance. Airspace was cleared for him to attempt the closest runway, which was in Moline, Ill.

"I tell people that for 15 minutes, I owned Quad City International Airport," says Guttau.

The veteran pilot began working through his memorized emergency checklist and assessing his situation. He couldn't tell at that point what was going on under the cowling, so he shut off the fuel to avoid a fire.

Cabin pressure remained adequate (pressurization had quit), but Guttau had to decide whether to "pop" the oxygen or not. "It's chemically generated," he explains, "and the process causes extremely high temperatures. …

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