By Michael Ranger and Michael Talbot
A small plane that was forced to make an emergency landing on Highway 407 in Markham on Wednesday morning has now been removed from its jaw-dropping, makeshift landing strip.
Just before 2 p.m. a flatbed truck loaded the plane and drove it off, ending one of the more bizarre GTA highway incidents in recent memory.
The plane took off from Buttonville Airport and was forced to land on a nearby stretch of the highway in Markham shortly after takeoff.
The pilot, identified as Ibrahim Kulom, managed to land the plane safely in the eastbound lanes of the highway near Woodbine Avenue after running into mechanical issues and realizing it would not be able to make it back to the airport.
“We declared a mayday, let them know the situation — that we’re heading for the highway,” he said in an interview following the dramatic landing.
“We had no option,” he added. “It was either this, or the buildings.”
Police started to receive calls about a plane on the highway around 10:50 a.m.
Kulom, an experienced pilot and a flight instructor, said another pilot was onboard with him and provided support throughout the ordeal.
OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the plane ran into problems when it attempted to switch to the fuel tank shortly after takeoff.
“As soon as they switched tanks they experienced some engine stumbling,” explained Schmidt. “They looked back at the airport to see whether or not they could make it back, due to buildings in the way and altitude that was not possible.”
They reported the problem to air traffic control and decided to make an emergency landing on the highway below.
“They made a perfect textbook landing,” says Schmidt, calling it a “pretty scary situation.”
No injuries or damage to the plane or other vehicles have been reported.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Schmidt said.
The small propeller plane was making its first trip following a routine 100-hour inspection. The plane was on its way back to its home base in Grimsby.
The OPP and officials from the airport continue to investigate the incident.
Schmidt says police do not expect to lay any charges.
The two left lanes of the eastbound 407 were blocked near Woodbine for several hours, but have now reopened.