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Plane makes emergency landing on Southern California freeway

Officials say a small plane has made a nighttime emergency landing on a freeway south of Los Angeles. ( More...

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bartmiller 2
The forced landing was due to a seized-up engine. (Probably cracked crank shaft.) A rare sudden complete engine failure. The propeller couldn't even be turned by hand once the plane was on the ground.

And the article is incorrect; the plane was on its way to Tustin, not Orange County. Once the engine failed at 5500', the pilot tried to make it to KSNA, 8 miles way. The headwind was too strong, so set it down on the (fortuitously) empty section of the freeway.
A cracked or broken crankshaft would have allowed the prop to spin freely. My guess is a loss of lubrication from an oil pump drive shaft failure is more likely. That would cause engine seizure and hence lack of prop rotation.
Erich Neubert 1
Tustin is in Orange County and Tustin doesn't have an airport. It has an old Marine Air Station (not to be confused with El Toro) .

And at least the freeways are nice and big and well lit. If it was rush hour, he would have been landing on cars.
in the video (cell phone),it appears that plane landed in the far right hand lane of the freeway and it looks to be well lighted..still,all in all, the pilot was lucky he found a clear spot and he was not hit by someone who did not see him until the last minute..
Bill Sampson 0
You call the pilot "Lucky" ....there were dozens of things that could have gone VERY bad in this situation. I believe a lot of divine intervention is in order here.
well it luck, karma,divine intrvention or a "gutsy" move,this pilot at least landed in one piece and the video showed no fire know the old adage about cats with nine lives..?that can apply to pilots as well!
doug staab 2
Lucky?? Divine Something?? I'd give credit to a good pilot who kept calm and made the best of a bad situation.. Luck nor divinity set it down and brought it to a stop in a safe manner.. Give credit where it is due.

Good Job Mr. Pilot.
Egadnow 1
Agreed! Several good factors were present, and necessary for the safe outcome, Skill, Pilot didn’t panic, Luck, There was a uncongested freeway available. And yes, God has more things for the pilot to do!
Few, if any, Atheists in foxholes!
Dr. Jim. Korea and Nam Vet.
doug staab 2
Thanks for your service Sir. Desert Storm Vet myself!
Egadnow 1
Thank You, Sir.
dmanuel 3
If it was an engine problem (not electrical or smoke/fire), would it have been better to leave Nav/strobes on to reduce the chance of a collision while sitting on the freeway?
jbqwik 8
Absolutely agree on the lights, but hindsight rules and I'm wondering how astute I'd be in the same situation.
But at least it appears to be under a lighted area, near an exit ramp.
Bob Carlson 1
Yeah, if it had been an unlighted area, or a black plane, I'm sure some vehicle would have crashed into it. Lucky guy.
a very good report on what happened is at:
I hadn't realized he was over the Pacific when the engine quit until I read this story.
Egadnow 1
Some pilots just get lucky, after bad luck!!
bartmiller 3
Definitely some luck here. Though also a lot of skill and good timing. The pilot flew the plane under the overpass just before landing. (He didn't have enough airspeed or altitude to make it over the overpass.

To stretch his glide, he held off lowering his landing gear until *just* before touchdown. Which means he flew under the overpass with his gear up!
Egadnow 2
Agreed. Bob Hoover couldn’t have done better!!! Jim

Jesse Carroll 1
Ha, Bob Hoover would have gone inverted and left skid marks on bottom of bridge before uprighting and landing on one wheel!
Just saying...they don't make true pilots like Bob Hoover anymore!
Ok, I'll bite. I learned to fly at KSNA. Tustin is the name of the town just north of the airport, and there is IFR waypoint TUSTI. But I don't know of anyplace to put down a winged aircraft. Unless LTA is still there, but it's NOT on the sectional which the AOPA flight planner has.


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