Israel “Izzy” Slod and his friend, Daniel Gross, were forced to get creative while flying a small aircraft from San Diego to Van Nuys.
According to KTLA, the aircraft’s “engine quit” while they were in the air. Slod was faced with two choices: land on the beach or try to fight strong winds in an attempt to land at John Wayne Airport, but he thought the plane wouldn’t be able to make it to the airport. That’s when he noticed a third option: the highway. But there was a catch: an overpass was along the stretch of road on which Slod wanted to land.
“I saw an opening on the highway and I went for it right away,” he recalled. “I had to make a last minute, last second judgement on whether or not we could make it over, and we didn?t have the airspeed to make it over, so I went under it.”
The Costa Mesa Fire Department came across the craft while responding to a call of a plane crash on the highway, but personnel quickly realized it was anything but an accident.
“I didn’t think we were going to die, but I had no idea where we were going to end up,” Gross said, via ABC 7.
Fire Captain Chris Coatez said it was a “complete miracle” that traffic was light enough for Slod to land the plane where he did.
Similarly, Florentino Olivera of the California Highway Patrol said, “Typically on a Sunday night you have a lot of traffic coming from the beach, going back home. It was very fortunate that he didn’t hit any vehicles or cause any injuries.”
Coatez also explained that the strong winds that prevented the pilot from getting to the airport assisted in the safe landing on the highway.
“It’s crazy. I mean we landed in the middle of the freeway. I don’t want to do that ever again,” Gross added.