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Pa. Turnpike Commission Sends Pilot Bill After Emergency Landing

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The pilot of a small plane was forced to make an emergency landing on Route 43 in August when a piece of the propeller came off.

Now, the pilot says he is being charged thousands of dollars to pay the cost of those who responded to the incident.

When Brian Nicholson was able to safely land his vintage plane on the Mon-Fayette Express Way, also known as Pa. Turnpike 43, he says it was a lucky day.

That may have been true back in August when it happened, but then a bill arrived from the Turnpike Commission.

"I received a letter in the mail the other day that said I was owing $2,993.34 for man hours," Nicholson says.

An unusual sight to see, a 1946 Universal Stinson plane on the side of the highway, yet there it was at milepost 30 near California, Pa.

"I landed without incident or injury to myself, my aircraft, my passengers, the people traveling underneath me or any damage to the road or signs or power lines or bridge that was in the area," he says.

And for a pilot that's a good thing.

Nicholson even got permission to land on the highway after making a distress call.

But now all the high school art teacher has is stress and pretty hefty toll.

"In an emergency situation, I don't feel that's anything to site a pilot," Nicholson says.

Well, the Turnpike doesn't quite see it that way.

"It is standard practice for the Turnpike to seek reparations after an incident that necessitates involvement of our personnel. How we're handling this is no different than how we handle similar accidents involving a car or truck," says Carl DeFabo, of Pennsylvania Turnpike Public Relations.

The bill from the turnpike itemizes all that had to be done.

Nicholson contends workers didn't have to do anything if they had let him take off.

"I had a propeller there, I had my mechanic there. I could have put the prop on and been in and out of that area in 15 minutes and none of this would have occurred," he says.

Turnpike officials say there is no way they could allow Nicholson to use the highway as a runway for safety reasons.

Nicholson says it looks like he will have to pay the bill, but he is going down fighting.

Plane Makes Emergency Landing On Rt. 43 In Washington Co. (8/6/13)
More Reports by Brenda Waters

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