SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A pilot successfully landed on I-4 Friday during rush hour after his plane engine died mid-flight, according to Seminole County Fire Rescue officials.
Florida Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Kim Montes said troopers responded to the plane that landed in closed lanes of eastbound I-4 at mile marker 95.
The plane, flying westbound, landed at 3:38 p.m. in the unopened eastbound lanes near the median of I-4 after the plane's engine died. Only the pilot was on board and no one was injured, officials said.
The pilot sent a radio transmission to the Orlando Executive Airport tower saying the plane's engine died and he was going to set the aircraft down on the highway.
“She’s cutting in and out. I don’t know if we’re going to make it in,” the pilot said.
Orlando Executive cleared the plane for landing on runway 13, but moments later the pilot said the engine was done for.
“Our engine has completely died and we’re, uh, going to have to put it down right here on the side of the highway,” the pilot said.
News 6 viewer Janet McCulloh sent in a video that showed the plane gliding down and landing where the express lanes start next to the median.
[Watch the plane landing on I-4 below]
The plane came to a halt near the rest area at State Road 434, Fire Rescue officials said.
"We are arriving on scene. He is one lucky bastard," a helicopter pilot near the landing scene said. "He landed in the new pavement where the highway's not open yet and he had his own private runway. He did a great job."
[Listen to the pilot and radio tower transmissions below]
According to FlightAware.com, a website that tracks flight information, the fixed-wing, single-engine plane was registered out of Boynton Beach.
Montes said the flight plan started from Boca Raton to DeLand. The pilot left DeLand and was traveling to Orlando Executive Airport.
As the plane developed problems, Montes said the pilot looked for a golf course to try to land the plane.
The pilot stated he may have run out of fuel after the plane landed successfully, Montes said. There was no damage to the plane.
Officials said a Seminole County deputy senior pilot arrived at the scene and spoke with the Federal Aviation Administration. The deputy, after performing an inspection, advised the FAA was not responding to the scene and that the FAA did not recommend the plane fly from the location.
FHP command staff determined that it would be unsafe for the plane to fly from the location, officials said.
The plane, a 2016 Carbon Cub Light Sport SS, will remain on I-4 as a distraction for the evening. Montes said troopers informed the pilot that he would not be allowed to fly the plane from the scene because of the circumstances of the emergency landing and the volume of vehicle traffic along I-4.
Montes said the portion of I-4 the pilot landed on was paved about a week ago as part of the Ultimate I-4 construction project. No traffic was affected by the landing.
Florida Aircraft and Salvage was at the scene to dismantle the plane and tow the plane to Boynton Beach, officials said.