A plane carrying Morgan Freeman and his pilot blew a tire on takeoff from a Mississippi airport and made an emergency landing in which its landing gear collapsed and the plane ran off the side of a runway, authorities said. No one was injured. Mayor Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, a friend of the 78-year-old Oscar-winning actor, said that the twin-engine plane made what he described as a controlled forced landing just before nightfall Saturday at an airport in Tunica after it had taken off from another airport in the area. Both cities are near each other in northwestern Mississippi. Freeman issued a statement saying he was heading to Texas from Mississippi to shoot a segment for the series, The Story of God. "Sometimes things don't go as planned and a tire blew on takeoff, which caused other problems," Freeman said.
"But thanks to my excellent pilot Jimmy Hobson we landed safely without a scratch," he continued. "I cannot say the same about my plane." An FAA spokeswoman identified the plane as an Emivest SJ-30 aircraft and said the plane reported a "mechanical problem" after taking off from Fletcher Field in Lyon, just outside Clarksdale. An FAA statement said the plane's original destination was Sugar Land near Houston, but that the aircraft diverted to the Tunica Municipal Airport in Mississippi where it made the emergency landing at 6:15pm Saturday. She confirmed its main landing gear had collapsed and that the plane went off the side of the runway after landing. The Clarksdale mayor said another plane subsequently went to Tunica to pick up the actor, who has a home in Mississippi.