Small airplane makes emergency landing on 5 Freeway in Carlsbad

A single-engine Cessna made a hard landing Thursday night on Interstate 5 in Carlsbad. Nobody was injured.


A small, single-engine Cessna made an emergency landing Thursday night on Interstate 5 in Carlsbad, but the two people on board walked away uninjured, authorities said.

The plane lost power and made a hard landing about 7:10 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the freeway near Tamarack Avenue, Carlsbad fire Division Chief Mike Lopez said.

Lopez told OnScene TV that a man and woman were on board and headed for Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport from the San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte, in Los Angeles County, when the engine lost power.


Air traffic controllers lost the plane on radar about 7:05 p.m., Lopez said. The pilot put the plane down near the median, and both he and his passenger were uninjured.

The plane’s cockpit “filled with smoke,” according to a tweet from Carlsbad city officials.

There was minor damage to the plane, which came to rest partly on its nose, Lopez said. The aircraft did not collide with any vehicles or cause any crashes, officials said.

Authorities shut down all southbound lanes of the freeway in the area for about 30 minutes. The two right lanes of the freeway were reopened about 7:40 p.m., but the two left lanes remained closed until about midnight, when crews finally got the aircraft on a tow truck and hauled it away.

Officer Mark Latulippe, a spokesman for the CHP’s Oceanside area, said the plane’s wings would likely have to be removed before the aircraft could be fully moved off the interstate. But a photograph posted to Twitter by CHP officials showed the plane was loaded onto the tow truck fully intact.


Within about 50 minutes of the plane landing, as traffic backed up on southbound lanes of the freeway approaching the landing site, two vehicles collided just near Carlsbad Village Drive, according to the Highway Patrol. No injuries were reported in that crash.

The non-injury freeway landing was at least the second of its kind in San Diego County in the past 15 months.

In October 2018, then-25-year-old flight instructor Ryan Muno, a former San Diego State baseball player, landed a single-engine Piper PA-28-161 in the westbound lanes of Interstate 8 in El Cajon when the plane lost power while descending for a landing at Gillespie Field.

Riggins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


10:50 a.m. Dec. 13, 2019: This story was updated with additional details.