Pilot Lands Plane Safely on Street in Granada Hills
Hank Coachman of Granada Hills was watering his lawn Thursday night when he looked up, he said, “and I saw an airplane rolling down the street and it stopped right in front of my house.”
The plane’s wing came neatly to rest on his mailbox.
A 37-year-old Montrose man, flying from Crescent City in Northern California, ran out of fuel just short of Van Nuys Airport and made an emergency landing in the 11200 block of White Oak Avenue near San Fernando Mission Boulevard at 9:18 p.m., the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
The Piper Cherokee 140 was undamaged and the pilot, whose name was not released, appeared shaken but unhurt.
“I’m real worried about this,” he said. “I don’t know all the legalities here. I’m in a lot of trouble. If I can’t fly this thing out of here, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Authorities allowed him to do just that late Thursday night, using White Oak as a takeoff strip for the four-mile flight to Van Nuys Airport.
The neighborhood is about half a mile east of the site where a private plane crashed in a yard July 23, killing three people aboard but injuring no one on the ground. That plane was also headed for Van Nuys Airport, the nation’s busiest general aviation airport.
On Thursday, a Police Department helicopter crew, which had monitored the pilot’s radio request for emergency landing instructions, followed him down and checked his condition.
“He’s obviously skilled enough to pull this off safely,” Fire Capt. Steve Ruda said. “He’s shaken up, but he’s safe and he’s very, very lucky to be alive.”
Scott Mason, 28, who lives in the neighborhood and described himself as an aerobatic pilot, said the street, although four lanes wide, would make a difficult landing strip because of the many utility lines in the area. “He’s either very lucky or very skilled,” he said.
Coachman was more succinct: “No visitor ever landed in front of our house in an airplane before. It’s the craziest thing I’ve seen around here in 30 years.”