ROCKLIN (CBS13) – A small plane landed safely on a grassy center median of Highway 65 in between Lincoln and Roseville on Wednesday morning after its engine died, then used the highway as a runway in the afternoon after being repaired.
The plane landed safely on the grassy center divide area of the highway near Sunset Boulevard at about 10:35 a.m. After a part was replaced, the California Highway Patrol blocked the highway and the plane used a lane of the highway as a runway and took off at about 3:40 p.m., headed for the Lincoln airport.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor confirmed the plane landed safely after losing engine power. It had departed from the Rio Linda airport at 10:30 a.m.
WATCH: Plane Takes Off On Highway 65
The pilot, John Mares, said the engine just gave out on the aircraft, a 1961 Beech BE35-33A. He said he was on a test flight after just putting a new engine in the plane when it started sputtering at about 3,000 feet. It was his first emergency landing, he said.
“It’s something that you train for and practice for,” Mares said of the emergency landing. “You find yourself when it actually happens, all that training comes back.
“I just couldn’t get it going and at that point you’ve got to figure out where you’re going to put her down,” he said.
Mares landed the plane on the highway and rolled it into the grassy median.
“For him to make the call, land it safely on the center divide and out of harms way, he did a tremendous job,” CHP Officer Hayward Cook said.
“I’m just glad I didn’t hurt anybody and was able to save the plane,” Mares said.
A mechanic was on scene and looking at the possibility the fuel pump failed, but it was later determined that the fuel transponder needed to be replaced.
The highway remained open after the landing, but traffic was slowed by all the rubbernecking.
An FAA safety inspector arrived on scene at about 12:25 p.m. About three hours later, the plane was back in the air.