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Video: A Skyhawk Engine-Out Nighttime Freeway Landing…Then, Tractor Trailer Trucks

No one was killed, or even injured, in a forced landing that had potential tragedy written all over it.

Skill is great, and the pilot-in-command here demonstrated Sully-level stick-and-rudder and decision-making skills when the engine on the Cessna Skyhawk they were flying along with a student pilot had a total engine failure and had to be put down on the busy Pennsylvania Turnpike.

In a sequence that might have come out of a Roadrunner/Coyote cartoon, a student pilot and instructor executed a no-damage night forced landing on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, only to be struck—twice—by tractor trailers. No one was injured, even after the semis pushed the Skyhawk into a snowbank and severely ruffled its tail feathers. According to news reports, the nose section was also damaged.

The pair departed Trenton Airport (TTN) in New Jersey the evening of Feb. 8 on a night training flight. Sometime before 6:30 p.m. local time, it suffered a loss of power and landed on the westbound side of the turnpike in the right lane about a mile from a service plaza, midway between Lancaster and Harrisburg exits. A flatbed truck later removed the Cessna.
The 2006 Skyhawk is a multi-owner plane, and a member told local news outlets, “The bottom line is they landed the aircraft safely on the turnpike. That’s what pilots are trained to do.”

Though, are they really trained to land on freeways? Regardless, a tip of our cap to a job well done and to Lady Luck that it was only an airplane that got dinged while the pilots aboard get a great story to tell. The video shows the aftermath, but two takeaways. It is really dark out, and that section of Turnpike is really narrow!


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