On Tuesday, Southern California traffic was worsened by a vehicle much bigger than your average smart car.
Just past noon, aviator Andrew Cho was piloting a single-engine Piper PA-32 toward Corona Municipal Airport.
But something went radically wrong.
As explained to KTLA by California Highway Patrol Capt. Levi Miller, there was “possible engine failure [upon] final descent…”
The plane had lost power; where could it land?
In jeopardy above Riverside County’s 91 Freeway, Andrew decided to try and join the lunchtime traffic crowd. The finagling flyer headed himself and a passenger toward the middle lanes near Lincoln Avenue, eastbound.
Meanwhile, driver Armando Ramirez was on his way from Santa Ana to visit family.
Andrew negotiated his way between speeding vehicles and somehow managed to insert himself into a sufficient space — mostly.
His plane clipped the back of Armando’s pickup.
The plane touched down as a ball of fire shot in every direction. It skidded and swerved. The aircraft spun to the right and shot across the merging lane from the nearby entrance ramp. It hit the wall, which prompted another burst of flames.
Miraculously, the plane’s imperiled pair escaped.
The pilot recalled the experience to LA’s Channel 5:
“It felt like a hard bump. Hard to describe. We were four to five feet in the air when the plane stalled completely and fell to the ground.”
No one was seriously injured in the plane or surrounding vehicles.
The feat was caught on video by a car up ahead:
Another angle was captured. Watch Andrew expertly merge into traffic:
The plane ended up engulfed:
Here’s how it looked in the end:
Inside Edition reports Armando may have suffered a broken taillight. But the fact that nothing worse occurred is remarkable, to say the least.
According to Andrew, it was training that saved the day:
“Your training kicks in, and you do the right thing. As long as you don’t panic, you get the best outcome.”
Per KTLA, the eastbound lanes were closed for several hours while the crash was investigated and the wreckage removed.
The Federal Aviation Association issued a statement:
An unidentified small plane landed on the eastbound 91 Freeway near Interstate 15 in Corona, Calif., around 12:30 local time today. Two people were on board. The FAA will investigate. The agency does not identify people involved in aircraft accidents or incidents
Back to Capt. Miller:
“[We’re] very fortunate today that the traffic was light, and the pilot appears to have made some good landing navigation that avoided what could have been a very bad tragedy.”
He can say that again.
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