Pilot lands on Florida highway

| 11/9/2001

The pilot of an experimental plane made an emergency landing earlier this week along Interstate 95 near Palm City, FL, after the engine quit. There were no injuries and no other vehicles involved.

With limited options, Jack Fehling decided to glide the single-engine Velocity plane onto the highway's northbound lanes. The retired commercial airline pilot avoided traffic and coasted into a rest area before the smoking engine burst into flames.

The small plane, built from a kit several years ago, reportedly suffered an electrical failure about 15 minutes into the flight. A few minutes later, the engine quit and Fehling began looking for a spot to land.

With wooded areas, pastures and other obstacles dotting the landscape, he spotted a break in traffic on the interstate and decided to set the plane down. While coasting along the highway he spotted a ramp to a rest area and taxied the plane in until smoke from the engine turned into flames, forcing him to stop.

Witnessing the flames, a helpful trucker sprang into action and grabbed fire extinguishers from his rig and helped the pilot battle the blaze. They controlled the blaze until fire crews arrived and started pumping foam on the plane's engine.
--Keith Goble, staff writer