cessna-montreal060910

The pilot glided the powerless Cessna Skyhawk to a landing on Parc Avenue near Mont Royal Avenue, without injuring his passengers or the many onlookers. ((Tanya Birkbeck/CBC))

Officialsare investigating after a Cessna Skyhawk lost power while flying over downtown Montreal, forcing the pilot to land amid the tall buildings, people and cars on Parc Avenue.

The Cessna's pilot, GianPiero Ciambella,was giving a man and his sona bird's eye view of the city on Sundaywhen the engine reportedly stalled while they wereflying over thesouthwest end of the city's downtown core.

There was no time to get scared, saidBill Berenholc,the owner ofLester's Deli in Outremont,who was taking the ride with his 10-year-old son, Sammy.

"We lost power to our engine," Berenholc said. "We were over downtown Montreal, big buildings: there was very little open space."

Plane 'trapped' in road median

As the plane glided northbound towards Parc Avenue, Ciambella radioed air controllers to declare an emergency, recalled Berenholc.

The next thinghe knew, the plane was touching down in the busy northbound lane on Parc, near Mont Royal Avenue.

"All things considered, that we had no engine, that we were just coasting straight ahead, we caught the median, and there was no choice because our wheel got caught between the median itself, and there was an open space," said Berenholc.

"So we were sort of trapped in that median for a while. But [the pilot] brought the plane to a beautiful, straight halt."

No one was hurt during the emergency landing. The trafficlight hadjust turned red andpassing cars were stopped.

The action unfolded in front of a large crowd of amused onlookers lounging on Mount Royal Park's green hillside. They hovered around the plane and snapped photos with their cellphones and cameras.

'Is this a joke or is this for real?'

Montreal police, whowere the first emergency workers called to the scene, said they hadno time to cordon off the street to provide a safe runway for the Cessna.

Const. Robert Mansueto, a police spokesman,said he'd never seen anything like it in the city.

"I think this surprised a lot of police officers," Mansueto said.

"Everybody did a double take, you know, saying is this a joke or is this for real."

It wasn't immediately clear why the engine cut out. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has launched an investigation.