ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A plane made an emergency landing on the road in Orange County, just west of the campus of the University of Central Florida, according to Orange County Fire Rescue.
The plane came down in the area of University Boulevard and N. Econlockhatchee Trail.
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Firefighters said no one else was injured, and the pilot suffered only minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital.
A search of the plane’s tail number shows that the plane, a 1956 Cessna 182, is owned by Aerial Messages Leasing Co. in Longwood.
Click on the media player below to watch video showing the moment the plane slams into the road.
The president of the company, 40-year-old Remy Colin, told News 6 the plane was on a maintenance flight at the time of the hard landing, citing engine failures as the cause. Colin also said he was in the plane at the time of the crash.
According to Colin, he had just a few seconds to come up with a plan to get the plane on the ground.
“It was 4:00 over University (Boulevard). Worst traffic. There was absolutely nowhere to land,” Colin said. “My choice was a lake or the road. I see a stretch of 300 feet. There was one red light. There was 100 cars on one side, 100 cars on the other side, so I had oncoming traffic. I had a stretch of maybe 100 feet, and I said, ‘I’m gonna land it there.’”
Colin added that he felt he could survive the crash, and so he let the plane stall. However, Colin said that he had concerns about hurting others.
“Okay, where can I crash? The landing is not going to happen,” he said. “I got to sacrifice the plane, don’t touch a car, don’t go into someone’s house. Don’t kill somebody, and try not to lose too many limbs.”
“As we are driving, you see the plane coming really low down,” witness Amanda Skuban told News 6. “At first, we just thought it was, like, flying really low, and then all of a sudden, it was kind of heading toward us. At the last second, it started to move toward the other side of the road.”
View our previous coverage by clicking in the media player below.
As the owner of Aerial Messages, Colin said this incident is a teachable moment to other pilots who work for him. He said it is a reminder to never get complacent. In this case, Colin said he didn’t check the fuel gage properly, which resulted in running out of fuel mid-flight.
“It was a huge wake up call. It was like, ‘Hey, you are not invincible.’ I’m human. I make mistakes; slow down,” Colin said.
Video taken by a driver nearby shows the moment the plane hit the ground.
“It seemed like there was a moment where it just kind of dropped a little bit more than it was coasting, you know?” another witness, Raiah Collins, said. “At first, it was coasting, then it was just down. All of the cars just stopped. And I just wanted to get the video. I started calling 911, you know, and people were getting out of their cars to go over to it.”
Investigators said there was no one other than the pilot in the plane when it went down.
In a release, the Florida Highway Patrol said the plane’s wings struck two palm trees during the landing, and the front of the plane caused minor damage to the driveway wall of a nearby home.
FHP announced that as of 9:12 p.m. Friday, the roadblock was cleared and the eastbound lanes of University Boulevard were reopened.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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