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Mon, Mar 05, 2007

Cessna 182 Lands On I-10 Near Banning, CA

Dodges Transmission Lines, Cars; No Injuries

The pilot of a Cessna 182 dodged a set of high-powered transmission lines, flew through wind gusts of 35 mph, and landed on I-10 in Banning without hitting a car or causing injuries Saturday afternoon, California police said.

The Cessna 182 (file photo of type, above) with four people onboard was approaching the Banning Municipal Airport from the west, said airport ground-to-air communications technician John Sedlock, who was giving directions to pilot Lanny Ropke.

Ropke is a former American Airlines pilot with 42 years flight experience, 33 years as a commercial pilot. The plane was about a mile short of the runway and 500 feet above the freeway when the engine locked up.

"With winds like this, to lose the engine and land on the freeway with nobody getting hurt ... it's a miracle," said Sedlock.

"He did a fabulous job of guiding that plane," agreed Banning Police Sgt. Mike Loader. "It's amazing no cars were hit."

"It all happened too quick to be scared," said Ropke, 61. "I was totally focused on just putting her between the cars."

Ropke and three friends had departed Sacramento for a smooth and scenic flight into Banning Municipal Airport.

Ropke described for the San Bernardino County Sun how, despite motor failure and wind gusts, he maneuvered the plane for a safe, but hard, landing amid speeding freeway traffic.

What does a Cessna 182 look like after such a landing? Its three-blade propeller is mangled, its front landing gear is smashed, and everything in front of the cabin is torn and battered. The plane was towed to the airport.

All four airplane occupants declined medical treatment. Airport officials said the FAA and the NTSB will investigate.

FMI: www.ci.banning.ca.us/index.asp?NID=23, www.ntsb.gov

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