Late last week, a Piper Cherokee made an emergency landing on a surprisingly crowded Quebec freeway, and it was anything but an easy effort. There were a few things that could’ve gone horribly wrong, one of which we can’t stop thinking about.
The video starts as the Cherokee passes by overhead and the right-seat passenger starts her phone video—she did a great job, btw, total must-see TV. For one thing, the freeway is super busy, way too busy for a time when people are supposed to be social distancing. Maybe they were all essential workers on their to or from work, who knows. But somehow the pilot managed to find an open spot to slide into between lines of cars.
The cars were another thing, though not the worst thing. The drivers didn’t seem to get it. It seems to me there’s just one thing you need to do when a plane is landing in front of you on a road—stay the hell out of the way! That was not happening. If anything, the cars seemed to be tailgating the landing plane and then, once it was stopped, wasted no time in zooming past it.
But the thing that even most pilots have missed is the freeway sign the pilot very narrowly avoids, and only, it seemed, by paying off a few knots of airspeed into a little extra lift, an effort that left the plane, once it had barely cleared the sign, sinking fast.
The landing? Well, the pilot stuck it. Kudos on a job perfectly done with no one hurt, and not even a little bent metal.