Guy lands his plane on freeway when engine stalls

WINTER HAVEN | A pilot of a home-built airplane was able to land safely on Havendale Boulevard in Winter Haven on Sunday morning after experiencing engine failure.
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The 22-year-old pilot, Kyle Davis, and his passenger, Joe Surowiec, were not injured in the landing and declined medical treatment, officials said.

The landing of the dual-seat SkyRanger airplane shortly after 10 a.m. was caught on video by Surowiec, a professional videographer, and was posted on YouTube.

The two landed just west of 29th Street Northwest and Davis guided the plane into a parking lot at Brooks Furniture, 2951 Havendale Blvd. N.W., said Polk County sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Wood

"By the grace of God, there wasn't a whole lot of traffic," Davis said. "If there had been traffic on the road and I thought I was going to put people in danger, I would have landed in the lake."

Deputies were called to the scene, but there wasn't much for them to do. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board cleared the incident, Wood said.

Two cameras on the plane captured the drama. One focused on the cockpit, taping their conversation, and the other was facing the plane's engine.

The two-minute video begins with Davis at the controls, piloting the plane over Winter Haven.

The engine quits and Davis and Surowiec quickly begin looking for places to land.

"Can we land in that field," Surowiec asks, pointing toward Davis' window.

"I don't think I can get to it," Davis responds.

A few seconds later, Davis is able to restart the plane. Already at a low altitude, the restart only lasts about 15 seconds.

Surowiec again asks about another nearby field, but it's too far.

Davis spots Havendale Boulevard and, in the midst of a few expletives, lines up for his landing.

"I'm going for the road," Davis says in the video.

Another engine restart lasts about six seconds, not enough to make much of a difference. Below them, Havendale approaches fast.

Passing businesses and the occasional car driving on the opposite side of the divided highway, Davis lands in the center lane and quickly steers the plane into the Brooks Furniture parking lot.

"About two minutes into the flight, the engine quit," Davis said Monday. "And I don't know why it quit. We had plenty of fuel."

The pair were flying the plane for a friend to the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland from the Winter Haven Municipal Airport, what is typically a 15-minute flight.

Davis has been a flight instructor for two years and received his pilot's license when he was 18, he said.

"I went through a normal engine-out procedure," he said.

Davis chose the best route to glide the plane in, spotted a place to land and then tried to restart the engine, he said.

"As a pilot and flight instructor, you are told to look for landing spots," Davis said. "Roads work great."