FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A small single-engine airplane crashed Monday afternoon alongside Interstate 95 in Flagler County.
Florida Highway Patrol said for reasons still under investigation, the aircraft lost power and the pilot was attempting an emergency landing on the northbound lanes of I-95. As the pilot was attempting this maneuver, the aircraft’s wing collided with a tractor-trailer and was redirected into the tree line.
The airplane flipped over but the pilot and co-pilot were able to exit the aircraft on their own with minor injuries.
FHP said the pilot departed from the New Smyrna Beach area and was traveling to Flagler Airport.
The crash caused traffic to back up in the northbound lanes near the SR-100 exit close to Flagler Beach.
A woman who drove by after the crash told News4JAX there were pieces of the plane on I-95 and people stopped to check on the pilot and move the debris off the highway.
News4JAX spoke with aviation analyst and attorney Ed Booth about the crash.
“The airplane never made it above about 800 feet, which isn’t unusual. Certainly not illegal or unsafe. However, when you’re flying at a low altitude when the engine quits, you have very few options,” Booth said. “And such was the case today.”
Booth spoke about why the highway makes for a good landing spot in the case of an emergency.
“The Interstate is a suitable landing field because last time I was on the interstate, everyone was going about 80 miles an hour, and that happens to be the touchdown speed of a single engine airplane with the engine not operating,” Booth explained. “There aren’t a lot of electrical wires going across the interstate highway and so pilots over the years have made many successful forced landings.”
Some News4JAX readers have questioned whether the age of the aircraft had something to do with it going down. Booth said it’s not a factor.
“An airplane is more like a house than a car, because the FAA requires you to take it apart once a year and check everything, even if there’s nothing broken. Parts are readily available even for an airplane this old,” Booth said. “The engines can be overhauled, sometimes with new parts, sometimes with reconditioned parts, but there’s absolutely nothing inherently unsafe about operating an airplane in this instance, close to 75 years old.”
All lanes appeared to be shut down around 1:30 p.m. and traffic was flowing normally again around 5:30 p.m.
The removal of the aircraft will be done at a later time, FHP said, and federal authorities have been contacted for further investigation.