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Pilot, 79, Unhurt in Emergency Landing on State Route 67 in Santee

Wayne Oehler of El Cajon glided onto the freeway near Riverford Road, CHP reports.

A CHP officer spotted an airplane with a conked-out engine and blocked freeway traffic to make room for a safe landing Saturday on state Route 67 in Santee, the California Highway Patrol said.

No one was injured as Wayne Oehler of El Cajon, the 79-year-old pilot, glided onto the freeway near Riverford Road and braked to a stop.

A CHP officer was making a traffic stop about 9:50 a.m. and noticed a homemade Europa plane flying low to the ground as if in distress, according to CHP reports.

The officer immediately initiated a traffic break on the northbound side of Route 67 near Woodside Avenue, clearing the road for the plane to land, CHP Officer Brian Pennings said.

The plane safely landed and came to a stop at the Riverford Road off-ramp, about one mile away from Woodside Avenue, Pennings said.

Oehler told CHP officers that he left Gillespie Field near El Cajon and encountered engine problems soon after taking off. He contacted an airport tower and began to turn around but experienced a complete engine lockup about three-quarters into his turns.

Oehler pointed the plane towards Route 67 and landed with the help of the CHP officer who cleared the road.

"The actions they took led to a safe ending,'' Pennings said.

Oehler told officers that he began building the plane in 2000 and finished it in 2009. He has flown in many times without incident, Pennings said.

The Riverford offramp was closed in order to remove the plane, but freeway lanes remained open.

—City News Service

Brian Hanifin July 22, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Wow! What quick thinking by that officer! You would hope that drivers would realize what was going on and clear the way anyway, but having a fully clear freeway must have made his tough landing easier.

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