A student pilot flying solo made an emergency landing Monday afternoon on a dirt road north of Fountain Hills, narrowly missing nearby homes.
"He was practicing doing turns when he lost control of the aircraft," said Mike Clark, a spokesman for Rural/Metro Fire Department. "It was some type of mechanical failure."
The aircraft, a single-engine Piper Archer, was at 5,000 feet and traveling about 100 mph above the unincorporated area of Rio Verde when the pilot lost control.
The plane, which had taken off from Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, made a hard landing around 1:50 p.m. on 160th Street near Rio Verde Drive. It skidded about 600 feet before the right wing clipped a tree, Clark said.
The pilot's name won't be released until an Federal Aviation Administration investigation is completed, Clark said, who added the uninjured pilot is a student at Pan Am Flight Academy in Deer Valley.
"He did a heck of a job landing that thing," Clark said. "There is a number of homes there. He was just a few hundred yards away from a large horse ranch. He steered away from it, fortunately."
Brad Kathrins, training center director for Pan Am Flight Academy, said the FAA was investigating the landing.
"We haven't had an aircraft incident in several years," Kathrins said. "It is awfully unfortunate."