FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The pilot of a small plane that crashed on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 on Sept. 23 is talking about the harrowing experience.
Robert Robertson of Wilton Manors said he didn't think he was going to make it out alive when the plane's right engine shut down.
"That's the worst time period. That's when you can't turn back to the runway and you have to land in front of you somewhere," Robertson told Local 10.
The plane landed between Commercial Boulevard and Cypress Creek Road and came to rest on the west shoulder of the interstate.
According to a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, the twin-engine Beechcraft took off from nearby Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport around 1:30 p.m. when the pilot failed to gain altitude and called in a mayday.
Local 10 reported the plane was fully loaded with fuel and headed to the Bahamas.
"With 1,800 pounds of cargo in the back of the airplane and full of fuel and with one engine running, it won't stay. You're guaranteed a sink rating of a few hundred feet a minute," said Robertson.
Drivers described the surreal scene as the airplane crashed on the shoulder of the busy interstate. Witnesses told Local 10 that the plane came in at a sharp angle, clipped a building and "dropped like a rock" a few yards from the southbound lanes.
Robertson knew he had to land and zeroed in on the only patch of ground he could see. He said he got lucky with the choice he made. No one was injured except for Robertson, but he said he knows the situation could have been catastrophic.
"A lot of people would've been killed," he said.
Robertson said he's lucky to be alive today. "I figured my ticket was punched," he said. A self-acknowledged non-religious man, Robertson said he went to visit a clergyman soon after the crash.
The plane's chief mechanic, David Cavanaugh, was at the scene of the crash and told Local 10's Roger Lohse that the vintage 1960s model aircraft was modified to carry cargo.
"It's been a good airplane. We haven't had a major maintenance issue with it at all," said Cavanaugh.
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