A teenage pilot experiencing engine problems mid-air was able to safely land his aircraft on a busy New Jersey bridge.
Landon Lucas, 18, was flying above Atlantic City on Monday when he ran into trouble with his banner plane and realized he needed to make an emergency landing. He released his banner into the ocean and was attempting to reach Ocean City Municipal Airport but had a change of plan when he saw a gap in traffic on the westbound lanes of the 9th Street Bridge, which connects Ocean City and Somers Point, according to WABC.
Lucas was able to land his single-engine Piper J3C-65 Cub on the bridge at 12:37 p.m.
"The pilot successfully landed with no damage to the plane and no injury to himself or any motorist," Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen said in a statement to the Press of Atlantic City. "Investigators are on the scene, and crews are working to remove the wings and tow the plane away."
Lucas, who completed several certifications from the Choice Aviation in Cody, Wyoming, recounted the incident to WPVI.
"I was just sitting there listening to music and having my morning coffee. The next thing you know, I was like, 'Holy crap, I'm gonna go in the ocean,'" he said, explaining that the aircraft then suffered complete engine failure.
"Immediately, I see my altimeter rolling down," he continued. "What was going wrong was the engine was starved of fuel from the airbox that was falling off."
Lucas recalled thinking that one way or another, the plane was going to go down. He had to act fast, which is when he saw the gap in traffic.
"I was able to get above the cars and I just shot down in front of them and just basically put it into a flare right in front of them. All the cars behind me, they're just seeing an airplane land on the road. I got lucky," said Lucas.
Justin Dugary witnessed the landing from his boat. A pilot himself, he told WTXF that it was a textbook case of what to do in an emergency.
"It’s not easy. It's really a challenge. I’m very proud of him. It’s really phenomenal that he was able to do this safely," Dugary said.
Daniel Lepone also witnessed the incident.
"I was riding back to my house all of a sudden I see a plane going lower and lower and I could hear it," Lepone told WPVI. "I heard a loud boom and the propeller and it was really loud and I could see it just drift down slowly. It was pretty scary."
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