83-year-old lands plane on expressway

Imagine. There you are driving along an expressway in South Florida. You’re checking the rear-view mirror and side-view mirrors, watching the distance between you and the cars in front of your car, smoothly navigating traffic. You’re doing a swell job, and then there’s a surprise–something you weren’t planning on. A yellow object comes into view. A large yellow tropical bird, perhaps? Your heart starts pounding faster. You think “Gaad!!! WHAT IS THAT THING?” It’s a plane–a single-engine Hummelbird plane, and it’s landing in front of you. ON THE EXPRESSWAY for heaven’s sake. And the plane is being driven by an 83-year-old.

That’s what happened yesterday morning to drivers on the Sawgrass Expressway near Oakland Park Blvd. Luckily the plane didn’t hit any cars and cars didn’t hit it when it landed in the midst of traffic after pilot Ralph Squeglia experienced engine trouble.

Lest you think this mishap had something to do with Squelia’s age, on the contrary. He’s been flying since the mid-1940 and knows a thing or two–such as how not to panic when landing a plane on an expressway and what to do if the airplane’s wing clips a light pole. Oh, yeah–and how to do so without hitting cars.

According to Carlos Miller’s Miami News article, Squelia is not getting a citation from the state troopers and the FAA has yet to comment. As for the state trooper’s report, perhaps there isn’t a citation regarding how one should land a plane in traffic. Like “I’m sorry sir, you landed on the wrong side of the road. You’re supposed to be going with traffic.”

More crazy stories from the skies

Six weird plane emergency landing stories

One couldn’t argue that the US Airways emergency crash landing on the Hudson River due to birds flying into the engines is probably one of the most spectacular emergency landing stories.

There are, however, other stories that give one pause. They are not as splashy, but they sure are interesting, odd, and even downright weird. I went on an emergency landing hunt and this is what I found so far.

1. Back in December 2006, one American Airlines pilot had to divert a plane because of flatulence. One passenger who was passing gas, not the crop dusting, odorless kind that flight attendants sometimes do (ask Heather), but that foul kind you can’t quite get away from. The passenger who was passing gas lit matches to cover up the smell. When other passengers complained of a burnt sulfur smell, the pilot diverted the plane to Nashville where all passengers and all luggage was searched until the unnamed woman fessed-up. [Dallas/Ft. Worth Local News]

What about the plane VS the cow?

2. In August 2008, a Ryanair plane going from Budapest to Dublin had to land in Frankfurt after a man’s neck started to swell from an allergic reaction. Nope, it wasn’t peanuts. Turns out that a passenger had put a jar of mushrooms in the over head bin. The mushrooms leaked and got into the plane’s air conditioner system, thus out into the cabin which caused the medical woe. [UPI.com]

3. In December 2008, a Cirrus plane landed on the northbound lane of Highway 61 after there was engine trouble. The pilot and his passenger were able to push the plane to the side of the road out of the way until it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and removed. Can you imagine what it would have been like driving down the highway minding your own business when that baby came closer and closer to where you were driving? [10/13 ABC]

4. This odd story didn’t cause the emergency landing, but it is something that happened as a result. In December 2008, a World War II-era Tiger Moth in Britain hit a cow when it was making an emergency landing because of engine trouble. The cow had wandered out onto the runway. The cow was knocked down, but OK. My uncle hit a cow with his car. It wasn’t pleasant. Last summer while driving through North Dakota, we hit a few pheasants with our car. That wasn’t pleasant either. [UPI.com]

5. Here’s what one hopes would never, ever, ever, happen when flying. The plane door flies off. That’s what happened in March of 2008 when the door fell off a Bombardier Challenger CL-60 in Grand Junction, Colorado. No one was hurt, and the pilot was able to land the plane safely. A bit windy and startling, I would guess. I was riding in the passenger seat of a car once when the hood flew up and cracked the windshield. That was startling. [KOAA.com]

6. Here is a joke about an incident that almost ended up in an emergency landing. The story is thought to be true and was posted in The Australian. One plane almost made an emergency landing due to extreme vibrations. When the pilot put on the fasten the seat belt sign, the vibrations stopped. A person came out of the bathroom and said that he had been jogging in place. The story sounds a bit bogus to me, but I’ll believe about anything. [ahajokes.com]