A small single-engine plane was forced to make an emergency landing on Highway 101 in the South Bay late Saturday — a feat its 20-year-old pilot managed without any injuries to the four people inside, the California Highway Patrol said.
Engine troubles forced the young pilot, Wyatt Grow, to attempt the landing near Coyote Creek Gulf Drive in Morgan Hill, south of San Jose, the CHP said.
Officials with Cal Fire said crews were dissipated at 11:09 p.m. The plane was towed off the road to the San Martin Airport at 12:39 a.m., the CHP said.
Grow told NBC Bay Area the landing was an experience he'll never forget. Grow and his three friends were coming back after having dinner at Harris Ranch, which is located between San Francisco and Los Angeles just off I-5, in Coalinga, and has its own landing strip for small planes.
But Grow said that on the way back to the Bay Area, the plane lost power at 2,500 feet and he was unable to land at San Jose’s Reid-Hillview airport. “I started going through the fuel tank, started doing everything I could to get the engine back up and running, but each time we got power it would kill and die right back out.”
“My immediate thought was landing on the highway,” he said. “I saw quite a few cars passing below me. I figured cars saw me coming and stopped – thank you to those drivers.”
Grow, who has been flying since his junior year of high school, said he tried to remain as calm as possible during the landing, “even though my heart was beating quickly.” “I went on the highway just as I would on any normal runway," he said. "Once I touched down it was a huge sigh of relief.” Grow said his flight instructor had taught him how to do emergency landings.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life before,” Grow said. “It was a sinking feeling … I just hoped I was getting out of it alive.”
CHP officer Lisa Brazil praised Grow’s efforts. “I think the pilot did an amazing job avoiding any power lines and traffic … I’m just happy nobody was hurt.”
As for Grow, he says Saturday’s landing is “definitely one for the books.” “I’m probably still going to remember this when I am 80 years old.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is set to investigate the cause of the engine trouble.
In an apparently unrelated incident, another small plane made an emergency landing on Interstate 80 in Churchill County, Nevada.None of the passengers in that plane were injured, and the plane manged to get into the air again, the Nevada Highway Patrol said in a tweet Saturday night.
— Tricia Alvey (@jusmaknjokes) June 7, 2015