Pilots train on emergency tactics after plane lands on freeway

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CARLSBAD, Calif. — The day after the pilot of a small Cessna aircraft landed on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Carlsbad, pilots at nearby McClellan-Palomar Airport were trained on emergency tactics.

“It wasn’t on the initial training,” pilot-in-training Jack Gillen said. Gillen’s instructor added the training to his Friday schedule unexpectedly. “Thought he’d throw it in there. Always looking for the best place to land.”

Gillen said the emergency landing on Thursday night was the talk of the airport Friday.

“Oh yeah, we were all pretty impressed with what happened,” he said. “That’s a great job! It’s not easy.”

The 58-year-old pilot of a Cessna radioed in to Air Traffic Control Thursday around 7 p.m. to say his engine was cutting out. ATF workers tried steering him in for a landing, but less than two minutes later, the pilot radioed back to say he wouldn’t make it.

“We have smoke. We are not going to make it there,” the pilot could be heard saying during the emergency call.

The plane touched down on I-5 less than five minutes later, somehow avoiding cars on the crowded freeway. The pilot and his one passenger stepped out of the plane unhurt.

The tail number on the plane comes back to a company out of Covina, Calif. FOX 5’s call to the company’s number went unanswered.

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