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Witness recalls moments leading up to I-70 plane landing by allegedly intoxicated pilot

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Posted at 5:17 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 18:17:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An allegedly intoxicated pilot was arrested after he landed his plane on Interstate 70 near Grain Valley around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning. He has been identified as 35-year-old John Seesing from Prairie Village.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the plane ran out of fuel en route from Florida to the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport and made an emergency landing.

Crystal Lipham, a truck driver who was heading west to Colorado to drop off a shipment, witnessed the landing. In her eight years of being a truck driver, she tells KSHB 41 News she has never seen anything like this on the job.

“He just kept going lower and kept going lower and I’m going WTF. And then next thing I know, I go holy crap! And he hit the interstate,” Lipham said. “I blocked traffic, jumped out and I ran to him and hollered at my husband, co-driver, to call 911.”

Lipham says there was another semi-truck in front of her that was luckily able to veer around the plane last minute and avoid being hit.

Moments following the landing were caught on Lipham’s dashcam video.

“His words were slurring, you could smell the alcohol on him and everything,” Lipham said. “He gave me a hug and thanked me for blocking traffic and saying that he was glad the he didn’t hit nobody and he’s glad the interstate was barren with nobody around.”

MSHP Sgt. Andy Bell says authorities believe he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“With this case being unique in a sense that he’s intoxicated, we treat it similar to a driving while intoxicated offense like a vehicle,” Bell said.

The Federal Aviation Administration Airmen Inquiry shows Seesing only has a student pilot certificate. KSHB 41 asked former flight instructor and current pilot Dick Eiserer what such a certificate allows and does not allow student pilots to do.

“Student pilot certificate is basically a medical exam,” Eiserer said. “The student pilot certificate will allow you, after your flight instructor determines that you are competent to do so, is to take the airplane out by yourself. I guess the term would be indirect supervision.”

Eiserer says he has tracked the route of Seesing’s flight online and saw that his flight patterns were “erratic and a nearly 24-hour solo trip is very unusual for students. They need all trips approved by their instructors."

“Certainly not take off in the middle of the night, go to Florida, fly all day long and come back in the middle of the night," he said. "That would be totally out of bounds as far as what I expect of a student."

Bell says Seesing has been released from a local hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries. It is now up to the prosecuting attorney to decide if charges will be filed.

“He is one lucky person," Lipham said. "If he hadn’t had landed that plane the way he landed it, he could’ve went over the barrier, and it was like a 20-foot drop into a river."