Plane lands on highway north of Anchorage

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2010

ANCHORAGE - A pilot landed his small airplane on a highway north of Anchorage on Friday, picking a spot with little traffic on the three inbound lanes.

It was the second incident this week involving small airplanes in or near the state's largest city.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a small airplane crashed near downtown Anchorage after taking off from a small-plane airport. One child was killed and four others on board were seriously injured.

In Friday's incident, pilot Bill Toney, the only passenger on board, wasn't injured in the emergency landing on the Glenn Highway, Anchorage Police Lt. Dave Parker said.

"He did a fine job of landing it on the freeway," Parker said. "He said he landed it in a spot between traffic, so he did well."

Parker said mechanical failure was likely to blame for the emergency landing.

"I think this big hole in the top of the engine probably tells the whole story," he said by cell phone from the Mirror Lake exit off the highway, about 20 miles north of Anchorage, where the landing took place.

"Something blew in there," he said, "looks like it threw rods through the top of the engine."

Parker added, "Everyone's OK, no problem, it's just a mechanical failure."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, the Cessna 180 fixed wing single engine airplane was manufactured in 1953.

Police hooked the Cessna up to a pickup truck, and led it backward on the highway to Toney's hangar at the Birchwood airport.

Traffic backed up in the busier outbound lanes as people slowed to take a look at the airplane on the highway.

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