Cow forced interstate landing

Alaska pilot home safe after veering plane onto freeway

Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

KETCHIKAN - Jerry Scudero didn't intend to land the 1952 DeHavilland Beaver on Interstate 84 near the Oregon-Idaho border.

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A cow changed plans for the Ketchikan pilot, however.

Poor weather in the mountains over eastern Oregon forced Scudero to land the wheel-equipped float plane Sunday on the highway, about 15 miles east of Baker City.

Scudero told the Ketchikan Daily News that he intended to land on a less-traveled haul road near the highway.

"We were going to land on it and wait," he said. But as he began to land, he spotted a cow on the road.

"Next thing I knew, we were landing on the freeway."

Neither he nor his passenger, Jerry Foresyth, of Saanichton, British Columbia, were injured.

Oregon State Senior Trooper Robert Hereau was stopped at a non-injury accident scene in the eastbound lane of the road when he heard a loud noise, according to trooper spokesman, Sgt. Darin Helman.

He looked in his rear view mirror and saw the float plane taxiing toward him, Helman said.

The plane with 48-foot wingspan continued past the patrol car until it found a wide area on the side of the freeway to pull off.

Scudero said he had taxied for about two miles from where he landed before passing the squad car, according to Helman.

They had been flying in a valley for about three hours, waiting for the weather to clear, but eventually had to land to save fuel, Scudero said.

The landing caused quite a stir.

"There were a lot of people taking pictures and wanting to know what was going on," he said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and employees of a local tow company helped push the float plane into the eastbound lane again when weather improved, Helman said.

"Troopers, along with Department of Transportation, closed a section of highway and allowed (the plane) to take off," he said.

"From the moment we landed until we took off again, everyone was real cordial and helpful," Scudero said.

An airplane landing on a highway is unusual but not unheard of, Helman said.

Hereau said it was the third such incident he'd witnessed in his career, Helman said, but it was his first float plane.

Scudero said the flight started in eastern Idaho on Friday. He flew as far as Boise that day, he said. Weather prevented any flying on Saturday.

After taking off from the highway, Scudero said, he flew to a small airport in Idaho. On Monday, he delivered the airplane to Seattle before returning to Ketchikan on a commercial airline.

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