Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cessna 177RG Cardinal, N34226: Aircraft force landed on a highway median, near Sutherlin, Oregon


ROSEBURG – A small airplane that lost power made an emergency landing Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 5 between Roseburg and Sutherlin. 

 After landing, the red-and-white Cessna single engine aircraft came to a stop in the median between the two lanes and did not block traffic. The incident was reported about 1:45 p.m.

According to those on the scene, the plane was southbound at the time and touched down in the southbound lanes before turning into the median strip.

The owner of the single-engine Cessna 177 Cardinal RG, Marc Girardet, 38, of Tenmile, said he left the Roseburg Municipal Airport at 1:30 p.m. for Portland with copilot Doug Denham, 56, of Portland. Just north of Roseburg the plane began to lose power.

Girardet turned the plane back toward Roseburg, but the engine kept dying. He contacted air traffic controllers in Eugene and said he planned to land in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5. That's where the plane touched down, around milepost 131.

Denham kept an eye out for power lines while Girardet guided the aircraft down the highway, with traffic, to an emergency vehicle pullout in the median, where he pulled in.

"Nobody stopped," Girardet said. "All the other motorists just kept driving."

The pair then waited for a mechanic to arrive and remove the wings so it could be trailered back to Roseburg for repairs. Girardet, part of the family that owns Girardet Winery, said the plane had never let him down like this before.

"Fifteen seconds after we landed, the engine died," Denham said. "We were pretty much at the end of our rope."

OSP, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Sutherlin Police Department, ODOT and local fire personnel responded. There were no reports of injuries.

OSP said traffic continued to move in both directions.

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