Andrew Cho realised that the engine of the small airpline he was piloting was in trouble while approaching the Corona Municipal Airport in Riverside County. Though he could see the airport out of his window, Mr Cho knew that landing safely there was an impossibility.
“On the right side of my plane was the freeway, and my biggest fear was, of course, hitting other cars,” Mr Cho told KNBC in Los Angeles. “But I saw enough of a gap there, and I just headed for the gap.”
It was, very likely, a lifesaving decision. Mr Cho, who has 12 years of flying experience, landed the plane hard in between cars driving on the freeway. Remarkably, did not hit a single one. The plane bounced after landing and then skidded across multiple lanes of traffic before catching fire, but no one in the plane or motorists on the freeway reported any injuries.
Aside from the loss of the plane, the only physical damage from the crash was reportedly a busted tail-light and tailgate on a pickup truck.
Mr Cho and a friend were returning from a flight to Santa Catalina Island off the Los Angeles coast when the Cessna aircraft began having engine problems. Mr Cho said he recalled from his training that experiencing engine failure did not mean that his job as a pilot was finished.
“You never stop flying a plane just because you lose an engine,” Mr Cho told the television station. “Your plane doesn’t drop out of the sky. You fly it all the way to the ground.”
Multiple lanes of traffic on the freeway were shut down following the crash landing, while Corona police reportedly closed the Lincoln Avenue onramp to the eastbound freeway.