Plane makes emergency landing on southbound SR-125 in South Bay

Aircraft was flying from Ensenada to Brown Field

OTAY MESA, Calif. - A small plane made a safe emergency landing Friday on southbound state Route 125 just north of the Otay River Bridge.

The two-seater Cessna 150C landed at 11:06 a.m., authorities said. The pilot and sole occupant of the aircraft, a 58-year old resident of Mexico, was unharmed.

"He told investigators he routinely made this flight to visit local family and friends," CHP public affairs Officer Jake Sanchez said.

A single lane on the freeway was closed while authorities arranged get the aircraft off the roadway, CHP public affairs Officer Robert Catano said. It was towed away shortly before noon.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the plane experienced an unspecified engine problem. The plane was flying from Ensenada, Mexico to Brown Field, 10News learned.

The pilot, Jim Truitt, told reporters that he heard the engine sputter as he was heading to Brown Field.

"Flying along, everything is fine," said Truitt. "Then the engine starts sputtering, I'm in the clouds."

He said he got it up and running once, but then, more trouble.

"The carburetor is iced up and the engine finally stops," Truitt said.

With 37 years of flight experience to pull from, Truitt said he decided not to risk damaging his friend's plane and put it down on SR-125.

"A Cessna 150 is a pretty light plane, almost like a paper airplane when you fly it; it glides until it lands. You don't need an engine to land it," Truitt said.

Before he landed on the northbound said, he said he was going to land on northbound lanes, but saw a sign that was in his path.

There was no traffic down below, said California Highway Patrol Officer Steven Toth.

"He picked the right road where to land on because he wouldn't have been able to do this anywhere else in the county," said Toth.

In fact, the only traffic the pilot had to worry about was the backup behind the plane as it was towed to Brown Field.

After a harrowing day, Truitt said the scariest part was dealing with a crush of reporters.

"This is worse than the landing," said Truitt.

The Cessna is registered to Valley Center resident John Renquist, a commercial pilot, flight instructor, aircraft mechanic and experimental-airplane builder, according to FAA records.

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