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Pilot lands plane on Costa Mesa freeway: 'I saw an opening on the highway and I went for it right away'

Pilot lands plane on Costa Mesa freeway: 'I saw an opening on the highway and I went for it right away'
An experienced pilot landed a small plane on the 55 Freeway in Costa Mesa on Sunday evening after the aircraft's engine failed, authorities said. (Costa Mesa Fire Department)

A small plane made an emergency landing on the 55 Freeway in Costa Mesa on Sunday evening after its engine failed and powerful winds prevented the pilot from getting to the nearest airport.

The pilot told KTLA that he and his friend were heading to Van Nuys from San Diego when the "engine quit" on them.

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At that point, the pilot told the station, he had a choice: He could fly to John Wayne Airport or land on the beach.

With strong winds hampering his plan to get to the airport, he spied an opportunity near a freeway overpass.

"I saw an opening on the highway and I went for it right away," said the pilot, identified by KNBC-TV Channel 4 as Izzy Slod. "I had to make a last-minute, last-second judgment on whether or not we could make it over, and we didn't have the airspeed to make it over, so I went under it."

Slod was flying with passenger Daniel Gross, who told KNBC that the plane was "a mile or two off the coast" when the engine died.

Costa Mesa Fire Capt. Chris Coatez told KTLA that it was a "complete miracle" that traffic was light on the freeway when the pilot decided to land the Beech G33. His agency described Slod as an experienced pilot.

No one was injured in the incident, which was reported about 7:40 p.m. on northbound lanes just south of Del Mar Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The plane didn't hit any cars or cause any collisions on the roadway. Authorities closed three northbound freeway lanes.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the agency.

Twitter: @AleneTchek

UPDATES:

11:50 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the pilot and his passenger.

9:30 p.m.: This article was updated with information from the FAA.

This article was originally published at 8:35 p.m.

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