An 18-year-old pilot brought his falling airplane and three passengers to a safe landing on Saturday after the craft lost power shortly after takeoff.

"It wasn't too bad," said pilot Todd Thomas of his first mishap in one year of flying.Thomas, of Mulvane, Kan., was at the controls of a school Beechcraft Sierra, a single-engine propeller airplane. With him were Vic Valdez, 35, of nearby Derby, Kan., and Valdez's children, Anthony, 18, and Crystal, 12.

The Kansans had been visiting family in the Ogden area and were returning home. Thomas said that after they took off from Ogden's Hinckley Airport shortly after 3 p.m., the airplane's engine would not generate enough power to climb.

"We couldn't get any altitude," he said. "The gauges just started going haywire."

Thomas circled to the left. As he approached the south end of the airport, he feared the craft was not going to reach the taxiway he was aiming for.

"Probably another five seconds and I could've made the asphalt," Thomas said.

The airplane did reach the taxiway, Ogden Fire Capt. Rick Williams said, but not before sliding about 120 yards through the snow with the landing gear only partially down. Along the way, the craft smashed through a wire fence.