New Brunswick

Small plane makes emergency landing on highway near Confederation Bridge

A student pilot from the Moncton Flight College was forced to make an emergency landing on Route 16 near the Confederation Bridge on Monday afternoon after his small plane encountered a "mechanical issue," say Sackville RCMP.

No one injured, plane sustained minor damage after student pilot encountered 'mechanical issue,' say RCMP

Rod Wood, who witnessed the plane landing on the highway, said the pilot 'set it down, just as nice as anything.' (Submitted by Rod Wood)

Rod Wood has seen "some crazy things" after 33 years of driving a truck. But he admits he was taken aback when he saw a plane trying to land on Route 16 near the Confederation Bridge on Monday afternoon.

At first, the small plane from the Moncton Flight College just looked like a "white line," said Wood, who had just come off the bridge and was hauling a flammable product westbound at around 12:30 p.m.

"I didn't really know what it was because it was quite a ways in the distance and it was kind of moving up and down," he said.

But as it headed straight for him, he realized, "Holy crap, you know, there's a plane going to land on the highway."

Even the 911 operator couldn't believe it when he called, he said. "She was just kind of incredulous, like, 'What?' … It's not something you hear every day, I guess."

The student pilot, a man in his 20s, who was alone, was forced to make an emergency landing after he encountered a "mechanical issue" near Bayfield, said Sackville RCMP Sgt. Paul Gagné.

No one was injured and the two-seater plane —  a Diamond DA20-C1 — sustained minor damage, he said.

Emergency crews were called to the scene at around 12:45 p.m.

Wood said it's a busy stretch of the two-lane, undivided highway, especially on Mondays when there's a lot of truck traffic.

'He was extremely calm and looked confident'

He watched the plane bob over some vehicles ahead of him that didn't pull over. The pilot needed to land in the middle of the highway to avoid tearing off the plane's wings on a hydro pole or sign, he said.

"The first thing that comes into your mind eh, it's just like, you see this stuff on TV, you never expect something like this to actually happen," he said.

Once Wood and a couple of other truck drivers made way though, the pilot immediately "set it down, just as nice as anything," and "got out of the cockpit, thumbs up. Everything was OK."

"He did a good job. I was impressed," said Wood. "He was extremely calm and looked confident."

The plane blocked one lane of traffic until about 2:15 p.m. when crews managed to roll it into a nearby parking lot, RCMP said.

By 3 p.m., the wings were removed, it was loaded on a trailer and taken away, said Wood.

Transport Canada was notified.

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