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'Experienced Pilot' Makes Emergency Landing On Freeway

A plane en route to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., was losing altitude so the pilot decided to take the freeway.
A plane en route to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., was losing altitude so the pilot decided to take the freeway.

Authorities are calling the emergency landing that took place on State Route 55 in Costa Mesa, Calif., a "miracle."

Izzy Slod, 25, and a passenger were flying back to Van Nuys from San Diego on Sunday evening following a business trip, authorities told NPR. The two men were heading to John Wayne Airport, with Slod in the pilot's seat.

But trouble struck. The plane was over open ocean about 2 miles from the coast when Slod noticed that the plane was descending.

"They said their engine went out without any warning signs," said Costa Mesa Fire Department Capt. Chris Coates.

Slod tried to restart the engine, but to no avail. At that point, he decided he had no other option but to land the plane on the freeway.

Around 7:40 p.m., Slod called air traffic control and said he was going to land the Beech Bonanza G33 on the Costa Mesa highway, State Route 55.

"We had a strong Santa Ana wind," Coates said. "He was going against that wind and that wind prevented him from making it all the way."

But that wind also helped Slod to land the plane on the highway, Coates said. Slod is an "experienced pilot," Coates said, and safely guided his plane under an overpass before landing. The overpass is a little less than 20 feet high, Coates said. The G33 is a little over 8 feet tall.

Shortly before 8 p.m., Slod brought the plane down near the Del Mar exit.

"I've been with the fire service for 22 years and I've never experienced an emergency landing in Costa Mesa," Coates said.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

Asia Simone Burns is an intern with NPR Digital News.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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