SANTEE, Calif. - A small plane was forced to make an emergency landing on state Route 52 in Santee on Saturday after its pilot reported problems shortly after takeoff.
The pilot lost control around 6 p.m. Saturday night, moments after the plane left Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
"[The pilot] immediately experienced engine problems," explained California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Pennings. "He had no other choice but to land on the freeway."
10News learned that the pilot, a flight instructor for Golden State Flying Club, was en route to Oceanside with a licensed student pilot. Managers at the training school told the media the two were on a refresher course when the Piper Cherokee went down.
The plane landed on the westbound lanes of SR-52 just before the state Route 125 interchange and had to taxi the plane under an overpass before parking it on the shoulder of the road.
"He could've hit the bridge, he could've hit the sign, he could've hit cars," said Pennings. "It could've ended very, very badly. Fortunately, it did not."
The emergency landing did not impact traffic. The CHP said officers did not have to shut down a stretch of the highway because the plane was not obstructing any lanes.
Federal investigators were expected to look at the plane once it was towed to Gillespie Field.