You don't typically expect to drive beside a plane on the highway, but some New Jersey drivers did just that over the weekend. On Sunday, a small plane made an emergency landing on Route 72 near the Jersey Shore, carefully avoiding cars and leaving few injuries. The Stafford Township Police said in a Facebook post that the initial investigation suggested that the single-engine plane lost power, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. The pilot, Mike Barbato, tells Bustle that the highway was "the best of very few options," and that once he touched down, he chose to steer in the median to avoid hitting cars. In a video the police department released on Facebook, you can see the plane swoop down in a clearing of cars and strategically dodge those nearby, before landing just before 10 a.m. Sunday. The plane was carrying students from the Skydive East Coast Sky Diving School.
"Engine-out landings are the situation that pilots train for the most," Barbato says. "Successful outcomes like this should be the rule, not the exception." The landing was extremely successful, as no cars were involved and the only injury was a small cut on a sky diving instructor's arm, according to the police department.
A witness, Shawn Maloney, told NBC News: "He hit the ground and bounced a couple times. Nice and easy and then hit the median in the grass and he went back and forth a little bit and just missed cars by a few feet maybe. And power lines too."
Both sides of the highway were closed for about 90 minutes while the police investigated, but the investigation was then turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration for further inquiry into what happened. The plane, a fixed-wing Cessna, didn't appear to have any damage and was pulled off the road into a nearby parking lot to open up the highway.
People on the highway at the time documented the emergency landing, because that's not exactly something you see every day.
Images: LiveLeak/YouTube (1)