HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Just after 10:30 a.m., a Cessna 188 took off from Tampa Executive airport and the pilot experienced a sudden loss of power. The aircraft then landed on Bruce B Downs Boulevard, landing under a traffic light and under three bridges for I-75 and over several startled drivers.
“I just lost power and I had to bring it in for a landing somewhere and this road actually wasn’t as busy when I came in,” said the pilot who identified himself as Nick, but didn’t want to give his last name.
He spoke to News Channel 8 not long after his landing, saying he had few options.
“Just tried to get it down as safely as possible, put it somewhere where it’s not going to damage property or your plane. Try not to put it in the trees,” said Nick.
Witnesses told a Tampa police officer the plane had flown under I-75, the pilot says it wasn’t that dramatic.
“I was landing under the interstate. I was already on the road basically, so if you can look down the road right there, I was landing before the interstate there and then I was basically on the ground underneath,” said Nick, who calmly spoke of the incident not long after landing.
Andre Wilson was driving on Bruce B Downs when the plane was forced to land.
“Just happened to look in the rearview mirror and just seen the plane coming down. Outstanding pilot went underneath three bridges and he did an outstanding job. No traffic on the road, landed it, had a green light, took the green light, parked it, can’t get no more perfect than that,” said Wilson.
Hector Diaz was with Wilson when Nick landed the plane.
” I looked out the window, driver’s side and there he was. His wheels were skidding right on the street and he went by. I mean, honestly, he was incredibly lucky,” said Diaz.
The only damage to the plane was a flat right tire. The pilot says the tire blew out as he pulled the aircraft over a curb to get into the median and out of the traffic lane. No cars were damaged at all.
“There was actually no one in front of me, so I have people that I probably went over but there was no one in front of me when I hit the road. I was just lucky,” said the pilot.