A small, single-engine plane made a successful emergency landing on U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Barbara on Sunday, only to be struck and badly damaged by at least one vehicle, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Neither the two passengers in the Piper PA-24 Comanche nor any vehicle occupants were injured, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.
The plane was bound for Santa Barbara Airport when the pilot radioed air traffic controllers that he had lost engine power, had run out of fuel and intended to land on the freeway. The plane landed in southbound lanes about a mile northeast of the airport at 10:36 a.m. The southbound freeway closed as crews worked to remove the plane, and traffic backed up for miles on both sides. Lanes reopened just after noon, said California Highway Patrol Officer Krystal Carter.
It was unclear where the plane had departed from, Gregor said. And there were conflicting accounts on the sequence of events and the number of vehicles that struck the aircraft. Gregor said the FAA is investigating. No information on the pilot was released.
-- Carla Rivera