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Student pilot lands plane on California highway

Danielle Lagree


CBS Los Angeles

MOORPARK, Calif. -- A student pilot safely landed a small plane on a thoroughfare in Ventura County after its engine began to fail mid-air, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Danielle Lagree, 27, and her flight instructor were forced to make the emergency landing between vehicles along the southbound lanes of Highway 23 after the engine on their small plane began to give out.

"We were coming down and so we either were going to go on a dirt patch or we found the highway," said Lagree, a student pilot.

Lagree said she and her flight instructor realized they couldn't get high enough over the mountains to make it to Camarillo in the small plane while recounting the scary moments.

The pair had left Van Nuys Airport and Lagree was practicing maneuvers when she heard the engine sputter.

"So then I asked my instructor what's wrong and he was like, 'Did you touch the throttle?' and I said, 'No.' And then he realized that we were having engine failure," she said.

"We saw the cable lines and we thought we were going to hit them, but we went right over them," she said.

Then, the two had to decide where to land to avoid injury. They chose the southbound lanes of the highway at the Tierra Rejada exit in Moorpark.

"You guys, I'm freaking out. A plane just landed on the freeway," said a woman, who posted a clip of the landing on Twitter.

"Thank God all the cars stopped except for one guy. He went right underneath us and we landed and I was very shaken," Lagree said. "I took a few deep breaths and I'll still go fly tomorrow."

The mechanics for Encore Flight School were dismantling the wings as of Monday night so the plane could be placed onto a tow truck and transported back to Van Nuys Airport.

They say the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to arrive Tuesday to determine what went wrong.

There were no reports of injuries.