No one hurt when small plane lands on I-5 near San Onofre, but traffic is tangled
An experienced pilot whose plane was having mechanical problems landed the aircraft safely on Interstate 5 near San Onofre early Monday afternoon, authorities said.
No one was hurt, but the incident blocked traffic and brought cars on the freeway to a crawl.
The plane was flying from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and headed to Montgomery Field in San Diego when it started having trouble over I-5 in the Camp Pendleton area, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Latulippe said.
He said the 55-year-old pilot — who has 18 years of flying experience — initially considered landing on parallel Pacific Highway, but wasn’t sure the road would be wide enough.
Instead, he spotted a natural break in the traffic in the southbound lanes of I-5 and landed shortly after 12:45 p.m., putting the plane down safely as far as he could on the right side of the freeway, Latulippe said.
“We could have had a tragedy out there,” Latulippe said. “A little bit of luck and a little bit of experience all playing together.”
Initially, the plane blocked the slow lane, but people were able to get it moved. Photos show the plane in the dirt path that runs alongside the emergency lane.
“We do have a plane on the side of the freeway slowing down traffic,” Latulippe said. “Lots of lookie-loos and cameras pointing out windows.”
He added: “As long as it’s not the driver.”
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