A pilot who safely landed a small plane on the northbound Orange (57) Freeway in Pomona is probably grateful today that at least one motorist on the ground was paying attention.
An unidentified driver on the 57 alerted other motorists to make room for the descending aircraft Wednesday night by swerving back and forth across freeway lanes, according to a published report.
"That's what really stopped an accident," Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Ed Lozano told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The pilot of the single-engine Citabria airplane, a man in his 50s, landed on the freeway just north of the San Bernardino (10) Freeway at 7:01 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol Officer Matt Lentz said the airplane took off from Long Beach, according to the Tribune.
The pilot was headed to Cable Airport in Upland when he reported engine trouble to air traffic controllers at Brackett Field in La Verne, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told the Tribune.
The pilot decided to try a freeway landing and during his descent noticed the motorist swerving to try to stop traffic for him, Lozano said.
The surprise landing prompted the brief closure of two lanes, but there were no injuries or property damage.
When firefighters and paramedics arrived, Lozano said, the pilot had brought the plane to a stop on the side of the freeway. The incident caused traffic to back up on the northbound 57.
Authorities rolled the plane along the 57 to the San Bernardino Freeway eastbound, then pulled it off at the Fairplex Drive offramp about 9 p.m. From there, Pomona police escorted the plane to Brackett Field, said CHP Sgt. Alex Gonzalez.
The pilot, the only person in the aircraft, identified himself as John Findley of Upland, the Tribune reported. Based on the aircraft's tail number, FAA records indicated it was registered to Findley and built in 1969.