Two men, an instructor and a pilot getting a re-certification, were scared but uninjured when they were forced to land on State Route 52 Saturday. NBC 7's Chris Chan reports.
A San Diego area highway proved to be a safe runway when a pilot is forced to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from Gillespie Field.
Two men, an instructor and a pilot getting a re-certification, were scared but uninjured when they were forced to land on State Route 52 Saturday.
The plane’s engine died and both pilots managed to glide the plane down to a safe landing.
“The seasoned pilot made the determination that they did not have enough air speed to make it to Gillespie, so he decided to land here on the freeway,” said CHP Officer Russ Nichols.
The small plane landed under freeway signs, rolled under the State Route 125 overpass and came to rest in the slow lane.
There were few cars on the road at the time.
When San Diego County sheriff's deputies showed up, they were able to help the pilots push the plane onto the shoulder and out of traffic.
That’s where the plane stayed here for about four hours as crews tried to figure out how to get it off the freeway.
They considered stopping traffic and pushing it off but the wingspan of the Piper single airplane were too wide to exit the off ramp.
So they brought in a large flatbed trailer and put the plane on sideways and took it away.
It's an ending that officers say could have been much worse.
“This could've been a huge disaster,” said Officer Nichols. “Luckily they found a break in traffic but this could have been a horrible if they crashed into the 125 mirror wall and car stacked up into it.”