Small Plane Uses Highway As Air Strip To Land, Take Off In Weston

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WESTON (CBSMiami) — A plane that made an emergency landing on US 27 in west Broward Sunday morning was back in business, taking off from the same highway it landed on hours earlier.

Three people were on board when the plane had engine trouble. Luckily, no one was injured.

A mechanic spent all day working on the single-engine Cessna casually pulled over on the highway’s grassy side in Weston.

By Sunday evening, pilot Arnaldo Santiago lined up the plane on the highway in front of Broward Sheriff’s emergency units and a fire truck. They stopped traffic so the pilot could safely use US 27 as an airstrip and take off.

Early Sunday morning, Santiago and two friends left West Palm Beach to spend the day in Key West.

However, 40 minutes into the flight, something went wrong with the engine and forced Santiago to touch down wherever he could.

He glided onto the southbound highway for about a quarter-mile, just south of I-595, before pulling onto the grass and out of the way.

Santiago told CBS4’s Donna Rapado that he’s been flying for a year and a half and said fortunately, they train for scenarios like this.

“It just took me a couple of seconds, there’s a plane coming over the road,” said Ray Soucatt, who witnessed the landing while on his motorcycle and immediately called Florida Highway Patrol.

“The engine wasn’t running, the propeller wasn’t turning,” said Soucatt. “He coasted quite a ways. He coasted underneath the overpass and I actually saw the plane pull over out of the main road.”

Despite the oddity, he said the plane landed smoothly.

“It looked smooth. It looked like it was executed perfectly,” said Soucatt.

Santiago was forced to wait patiently with federal aviation investigators and a mechanic looking into the problem.

Meanwhile, Soucatt had to come back hours later to check on things, unable to shake what he had seen.

“You know, I see it on TV and here it’s happening in real life for me. It was quite a shock and I’ve thought about it all day,” he said.

It’s unclear what exactly happened to the plane or its engine, as federal aviation investigators look into it.

Santiago’s two friends went back to West Palm Beach by car, the pilot telling CBS4 he didn’t “want to tempt fate.”

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