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Plane Lands Safely on Busy Interstate 5

Pilot touches down in Santa Clarita after the vintage Piper Cherokee develops engine trouble.

October 11, 2005|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

A light plane made a safe emergency landing Monday afternoon on the busy southbound lanes of Interstate 5 in Santa Clarita after apparently developing engine trouble, officials and a witness said.

Pilot Chad Wadsworth, 28, was not injured.

The plane did not strike any vehicles and did not appear to have been damaged by the landing.

The California Highway Patrol said there were no reports of injuries, but rubber-neckers did tie up traffic in the area for about an hour.

Robert Garcia, 39, a San Jose magazine publisher, said he was driving south for some interviews in Los Angeles about 12:45 p.m. when the shadow of an airplane enveloped his car.

"I looked up and he was just 10 feet above me, going the same direction I was," Garcia said. "He landed right in front of me. I thought it was the Highway Patrol busting me for speeding."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 12, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Emergency landing -- An article in Tuesday's California section about a plane that made an emergency landing on Interstate 5 in Santa Clarita identified it as a Piper Cherokee. It is a Piper Comanche.

He said the pilot managed to avoid all the traffic, "but it scared everyone enough to slow them right down."

Garcia said he noticed smoke coming from the engine cowling as the plane passed overhead, an observation other witnesses also reported to the CHP.

The plane bounced as it touched down on the No. 1, 2 and 3 lanes, but the pilot maintained control, maneuvering the aircraft onto the right-hand shoulder, where it came to a halt, Garcia said.

Garcia, himself a pilot, said he gave the pilot of the downed aircraft a "thumbs-up" gesture, and the pilot returned the salute.

Garcia said there was one passenger.

The CHP said the singleengine plane, a vintage Piper Cherokee, was towed to a nearby airfield later in the afternoon.

Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane is registered to Amptrak Studio Services in Acton.

The company could not be reached for comment.

The plane had taken off about 15 minutes before the accident from Whiteman Airpark in Pacoima, said Donn Walker, an FAA spokesman.

He said the intended destination of the flight had not been learned.

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