The two people in the cockpit made it out unharmed after their Piper PA-32 landed between numerous vehicles and slid to the side of the eastbound lane on Freeway 91, 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The aircraft hit at least one vehicle and caused a fire on the freeway, which was quickly extinguished by firefighters, according to the Corona Fire Department.
Three passengers were in a pickup truck hit by the plane, but incredibly, no one was hurt in the incident. The truck only sustained damage to one of its taillights, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The pilot, Andrew Cho, said the plane experienced an engine issue in the air, forcing him to bring it down on the freeway. “We were four to five feet in the air when the plane stalled completely and fell to the ground” Cho said, according to KTLA.
“Your training kicks in and you do the right thing. As long as you don’t panic, you get the best outcome,” the pilot added.
Photos of the plane after the crash landing showed that the fire had completely destroyed it. The crash forced California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers to block main lanes of the freeway, backing up traffic for miles. “(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,” CHP Captain Levi Miller said.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a statement on Tuesday explaining it would investigate the crash. “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,” the FAA said.