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Malfunction forces pilot's perilous landing on San Jose expressway

A precarious emergency landing on a major San Jose thoroughfare would have been much worse if not for the pilot’s skill, police said Thursday.

At about 8 a.m., a small plane took off from a San Jose airport and was immediately alerted to a malfunction and tried to turn around. But the plane couldn’t make it back, said San Jose police Sgt. Heather Randol.

With a flight student next to him, the pilot lined up the plane for touch down on the only flat-open area around -- the eight-lane Capitol Expressway.

“We’re lucky that he was able to land the plane in such an area,” Randol said.

The landing was fraught with danger, Randol said. The area is traced with power lines, surrounded by homes and a gas station is just down the road from where the plane touched down.

Once on the ground, the plane acted like a disabled vehicle and pulled over to the right lane near Quimby Road east of U.S. 101.

“It was bizarre,” Randol said with a laugh.

The pilot and student were uninjured and the plane appeared undamaged, she said. No drivers were hurt in the incident.

Randol said this was the first time she'd ever heard of the expressway becoming a runway.

The pilot was attempting to return to Reid-Hillview Airport, a small airfield near Cunningham Lake.

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Twitter: @josephserna

Twitter: @jasonbretwells

joseph.serna@latimes.com

jason.wells@latimes.com

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