MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A small plane made a dramatic emergency landing Friday morning in the middle of rush hour. A Cessna landed on US Highway 301 in Manatee County around 8:25 a.m. No one was hurt.
Commuters were heading to work when the Cessna was spotted flying very low. “I saw a small plane flying low, and I thought to myself he was pretty low to make it to the airport,” witness Dan McDowell said. “I could see the underneath of his plane pretty clearly from being 3 miles short of the airport.”
“With fuel and rush hour and traffic, he certainly could have taken out several cars I’m sure,” McDowell added. “It’s pretty shocking to see that nobody was injured.”
Aviation officials say flight instructor Thomas Frick took off from the St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport and was attempting to land in Sarasota, but something went wrong. “He descended. He said his engine started sputtering and at about 900 feet. The engine just quit altogether,” Lionel Guilbert with the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport said.
Frick knew he couldn’t make it,so he attempted to land on US 301. “He looked behind. There was a red light that was holding up traffic so he thought it was safe to land,” Guilbert said.
He landed without a hitch and without any injuries. “[It was] a strange thing to see it on the road on 9/11. It was concerning,” witness Christie Sinkler said.
Pilots are trained to react in these emergency situations, Guilbert said. He said if Frick couldn’t have landed in the road he may have tried to land on a median or in a cow pasture.
The FAA is investigating.