Student pilot, instructor on “safest trainer plane” makes emergency landing on Pennsylvania toll highway
A student pilot and his instructor were forced into an emergency landing on the Pennsylvania toll highway Monday night on a cross-country flight from Trenton, New Jersey, the owner of the plane to PennLive.
The single-engine Cessna 172, better known as the “Skyhawk”, landed around 6:30 p.m. on the west side between the Lebanon-Lancaster and Harrisburg east exits, authorities said. No one was injured, but the aircraft was damaged by two semi-trailers after it landed on the highway.
Mustang Sally Aviation, LLC owns the aircraft, and Managing Member Keith Furlong said the pilots did a “wonderful job” performing a manual emergency landing.
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said local authorities would disclose the identity and medical condition of those on board the plane.
“In the end, they landed safely on the toll highway and no damage was done to the aircraft when they landed on the toll highway,” Furlong said during a telephone interview with PennLive. “This is what pilots are trained for.
Furlong said the Cessna was manufactured in 2006 and is “the world’s most popular trainer aircraft.” He said the student and instructor were on a cross-country trip from the Trenton-Mercer airport to an unknown destination on Monday when they were forced to land.
Mustang Sally Aviation supplies planes to people of diverse backgrounds, including former military personnel, aspiring career pilots, or those who just want to learn to fly in their spare time, Furlong said.
“The accident rate is one per million flight hours, which is a lot of time. It is by far the safest trainer on the market, ”he said, adding that landings like this only happen every three to five years.
A variety of issues could have caused the emergency landing, Furlong said, but the reason remains unclear.
Mark Sites, who described himself as a Pa. Turnpike first responder, was at the landing site Monday night and said the plane would have to be taken down to be taken off the highway. Furlong said the plane would be taken to a training school in Trenton, New Jersey.
Authorities do not know what forced the plane to make an emergency landing. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.