SAN ONOFRE (CNS) - A private pilot at the helm of a disabled light airplane made a safe emergency landing on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton today.
The 55-year-old flier was en route from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana to Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in Serra Mesa in the early afternoon when the engine of his Piper PA24 failed in the vicinity of the Orange-San Diego county line, according to the California Highway Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration.
“As the pilot descended, he considered Pacific Coast Highway or I-5 southbound as possible landing spots,'' CHP public-affairs Officer Mark Latulippe said. “As he got closer to the ground, he was concerned that Pacific Coast Highway was not wide enough for the wingspan of his aircraft.''
About 12:45 p.m., the pilot, the sole occupant of the late 1950s-model plane, spotted a well-timed break in traffic on the freeway south of Basilone Road and decided his best option was to set the aircraft down there.
“The pilot ... landed (the plane) on the freeway lanes without hitting any vehicles and veered to the right shoulder to remove the aircraft from the (roadway),'' Latulippe said.
The emergency landing, which left the far right-hand southbound lane of the interstate blocked briefly, led to heavy congestion in the area through the early afternoon, according to the CHP.
The plane was expected to be loaded onto a truck and hauled to Oceanside Municipal Airport for repairs, Latulippe said.
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