Out-of-fuel Grand Rapids pilot lands on Fla. interstate
Davie, Fla. — The pilot of a small plane that made an emergency landing on South Florida interstate Thursday morning says his prayers were answered as the Piper PA-24 ran out of gas on approach to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
First, Scott Richmond of Grand Rapids, Michigan, said he had time to scout out his surroundings and choose to bring the plane down in the less crowded westbound lanes of Interstate 595 in Davie. Moreover, there were no power lines or signs stretching across the highway to obstruct his landing. Then, he said, he prayed that he would see his kids again.
Richmond said he left Grand Rapids on Wednesday and spent the night in Easley, South Carolina. He headed to Fort Lauderdale for business on Thursday morning and was on his final approach into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport around 8:50 a.m. when he was told to circle around.
“I just ran out of fuel,” he said hours later as he waited alongside the interstate for his plane to be towed. “All I had was the highway to my right and it was perfect for an emergency landing.”
Richmond said he’s practiced emergency landings and this one was almost picture-perfect. The plane landed wheels down on the road’s wide shoulder.
As it came down, however, the plane clipped the roof of a gold Honda that was traveling west on the interstate. Richmond said it left about a six-inch gash in the roof. His plane appeared to have minimal, if any, damage.
The Florida Highway Patrol said the driver, whose name hasn’t been released, wasn’t injured but his car was damaged. Richmond was the only person on the plane.
The westbound lanes of the interstate were shut down after the plane landed.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said an investigation is underway.