A man described as an “experienced pilot” flew under an overpass and made a safe emergency landing on the 55 Freeway in Costa Mesa on Sunday after his plane experienced engine failure.
The incident was reported about 7:50 p.m. according to the Costa Mesa Fire Department.
The occupants were out of the plane and no injuries were reported the fire department tweeted.
The pilot, who only gave his first name, Izzy, and his friend were heading to Van Nuys from San Diego when the “engine quit” on them.
Izzy said he had a choice of flying the beechcraft bonanza to John Wayne Airport or landing on the beach, but strong winds prevented from getting to the airport.
“I saw an opening on the highway and I went for it right away,” Izzy said. “I had to make a last minute, last second judgement on whether or not we could make it over, and we didn’t have the airspeed to make it over, so I went under it.”
The plane landed near the northbound exit of Del Mar Avenue near the Orange County Fairgrounds.
Costa Mesa Fire Capt. Chris Coatez said that the call came in as a plane crash at the fairgrounds, but first responders found the plane was intact.
He said it was a “complete miracle” that traffic was light on the freeway when the pilot decided to land there.
Coatez explained that strong winds worked for the pilot and against him, adding that they prevented him from getting all the way to the airport, but helped him land safely on the freeway.
Videos from the scene showed the plane on the right side of the highway with no visible damage.
Motorists recorded videos of the plane as they passed by it on the highway. Twitter user Dora Noriega tweeted “Plane landed on the 55 North we just missed it!”
Several lanes of the highway were closed as California Highway Patrol officials tried to get the plane off the road, causing a back up.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, a spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
*Update* experienced Pilot performs emergency landing safely on NB 55 at Del Mar. pic.twitter.com/jDYM3nneoc
— Costa Mesa FD (@CMFD_PIO) January 29, 2018
Plane landed on the 55 North we just missed it! pic.twitter.com/CA3lk8HM1T
— Dora Noriega (@doracocheer) January 29, 2018
— Peter Erni (@Peter_Erni) January 29, 2018