BOISE, Idaho – A small plane with a single engine that stopped working made a belly landing on a major interstate through Boise at the start of rush-hour traffic Tuesday.
The aircraft skidded onto the eastbound lanes of I-84 at about 7 a.m., authorities said. It avoided hitting any vehicles, and no injuries were reported.
The only person aboard was the pilot. He forgot to use a second fuel tank, which caused the engine to quit, said Andy Patrick, owner of Boise-based SP Aircraft. The plane landed about a mile west of the Boise Airport.
"He had plenty of fuel in the aircraft," Patrick said. "He just made a mistake and forgot to switch fuel tanks. The pilot made an error and wasn't able to make the runway."
Patrick said the pilot was flying freight from Spokane, Washington, to Boise. SP Aircraft is a charter business that also offers flights into the Idaho backcountry.
Sunrise was still about an hour away so the plane came down without its landing gear in the dark, except for lights on the interstate.
I-84 is the primary route for travelers driving across southwestern Idaho, and it's used daily by thousands of commuters in Ada and Canyon counties. The landing backed up traffic on the interstate and several connecting streets, and delayed some Boise School District buses.
"This was probably his best choice," said Santiago Guerricabeitia of the Idaho Transportation Department's Division of Aeronautics. "If he did have an engine failure, there's not a lot of time."
When the engine goes out, the pilot usually has to manually deploy the landing gear by pumping a lever. If the plane was already low, the pilot wouldn't have had time to lower the gear, Guerricabeitia said.
The number on the aircraft identifies it as a single-engine Cessna T210K. Patrick declined to name the pilot or say what kind of freight was on board. The craft's propeller bent from striking the pavement, but Patrick said damage to the plane can be repaired.
Crews moved the aircraft off the interstate just before 9 a.m.