A small plane landed safely on Highway 126 east of Piru Sunday afternoon after taking off from the Santa Paula Airport just two days after a small plane crashed while landing at the same facility.
No one was injured in either incident.
On Sunday, pilot and flight instructor Ted Ripp had taken off on his way home to the greater Los Angeles area. He planned to arrive at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, north of Burbank.
Ripp and his passenger weren’t planning to go to a Super Bowl party. But NFL football’s biggest game of the year may have contributed to his uneventful landing shortly after 3 p.m.
Ripp’s two-seat Cessna 150 was cruising at around 3,000 feet when the engine started running roughly and the plane wouldn’t sustain altitude, Ripp said during an interview on the shoulder of the highway while awaiting his mechanic’s arrival.
After running through an emergency checklist, he and his passenger, Lisa, who declined to give her last name, determined an emergency landing was required.
Ripp had enough time in the air to try various tactics to restart the plane and to plan a landing and approach. While in the sky, Lisa helped scout potential landing sites.
Ripp maneuvered to land, heading into the wind, on the westbound lanes of the highway. The 1966-vintage plane was small enough that he didn’t have to worry about oncoming traffic.
“There were no cars conflicting at the time, and we landed uneventfully,” Ripp said.
He then maneuvered the single-engine plane off the roadway onto a shoulder, in front of a citrus orchard. The plane was undamaged.
Ripp said he has flown for 33 years and has never had a prior flight emergency.
“I knew he’d land the plane,” Lisa said.
Ventura County Fire Department crews initially responded to the scene.
Ripp’s mechanic, John Clausen, drove in to handle the plane’s transport.
The plane is too large to simply tow.
A California Highway Patrol officer at the scene said it was likely the plane would need to be drained and have the wings taken off so it could be transported.
The officer also said the light traffic during Sunday’s Super Bowl may have helped the plane make a safe landing.
“Everybody’s home right now,” he said of the clear roadway.
On Friday, two people walked away unharmed from a crash that left their plane upside down in the Santa Clara River bottom.That incident occurred during an attempted landing when the plane clipped an unoccupied helicopter and went down an embankment.