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Homemade Airplane Crash-Lands on Freeway

August 16, 2000

CORONA — A small plane with a broken propeller landed on Interstate 15 Tuesday, hit a call box and slid down an embankment, leaving the pilot slightly injured.

It was the fifth time this year a small aircraft forced down by mechanical problems tried to land on a Southern California highway or freeway.

Pilot Birch Parker, 78, took off in the home-built plane from Chino airport and was at 5,000 feet over Riverside County when the trouble started.

"A piece of the propeller broke off and that caused a tremendous shaking of the airplane, and there's a hazard--if it shakes the engine off, that's all she wrote," he said.

Parker, a retired Navy pilot, said he touched down in an open spot on the highway but caught up with traffic and veered over to the highway shoulder, hitting the call box.

The wrecked plane ended up at the bottom of an embankment well below the road.

It was the latest in a string of incidents involving small planes in trouble trying to use Southern California highways or freeways as emergency landing strips.

A light plane crashed into three vehicles on Interstate 40 on Monday, killing the pilot and injuring two people on the ground 30 miles east of Barstow in San Bernardino County.

Pilot Kenneth Tull, 56, of Hermosa Beach was declared dead at the scene.

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