California freeway landing: Pilot, student land small plane on I-8.
A flight instructor with a student on board a small plane made an emergency landing Friday on Interstate 8 in El Cajon, where motorists managed to avoid the aircraft and no one was injured.
A California Highway Patrol officer radioed about 11:20 a.m. that an aircraft appeared to be in trouble.
The student pilot, a 35-year-old San Diego man, was at the controls when he lost power to the engine on descent to Gillespie Field, CHP Officer Travis Garrow said.
The 25-year-old instructor, identified as former San Diego State baseball player Ryan Muno, took over and lined up the single-engine plane over westbound lanes of I-8. He set the aircraft down near Second Street. Authorities said Muno was trying to contact a flight school, presumably at the nearby airport.
The pilot’s mother, Kelly Muno, said her son dreamed of playing baseball professionally, but when injuries derailed his career, he turned to his second dream of being a pilot.
“I’m so proud of him,” Kelly Muno told the Union-Tribune in a phone interview Friday night. “He’s on his way back home, and I just want to hold him and not let him go.”
Muno’s mother said the former Aztec corner infielder has been flying since shortly after he graduated college in 2015. Kelly Muno found about her son’s ordeal Friday from her daughter.
“She called and said, ‘mom, don’t panic, Ryan’s OK, but he just landed an airplane on the 8 freeway,’” Kelly Muno recalled. “I just thought, ‘oh my God.’”
The SDSU baseball team’s twitter account identified Muno as the pilot early Friday afternoon, and the team’s media relations specialist later tweeted some of Muno’s statistics as an Aztec, saying that more importantly, he saved “multiple lives” with the successful emergency landing.
Federal Aviation Administration records show the four-seat Piper PA-28-161, built in 1979, is registered to So Cal Leasing at Gillespie Field.
The two left freeway lanes were blocked for a short time by the airplane before it was steered off the freeway to the Mollison Avenue off-ramp.
Garrow said it would remain there until the wings were disassembled and the plane is towed away. The aircraft remained on the freeway until after dark.
Traffic was slow past the plane for most of the day.