Photo showing a plane that landed in the median of I-75 near Gibsonton. Photo courtesy Danny Kushmer on Twitter (@DannyKushmer)
Gibsonton, Florida - Pilot Charles Craig Pulliam and two passengers were headed from Tampa to Miami Thursday morning, and their flight plan did not include a stop on I-75.
The single-engine Piper took off from Peter O. Knight airport about 8:30 and had reached about 4,000 feet when Pulliam noticed warning lights in the cockpit indicating electrical problems and a loss of oil pressure.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Pulliam at first eyed the southbound lanes of I-75 for a landing, but a traffic accident was in the way. So he changed course and landed on the shoulder of the northbound lanes and eventually the plane came to rest in the median near Gibsonton.
On the way down, the plane clipped a power line and while rolling on the pavement, a large roadside sign tore off the left wing, spilling fuel.
No one on board was injured and no one on the ground was hurt either. Emergency workers say Pulliam did a great job.
"This is a little unusual. I wouldn't say it's a bad situation, because there's no injuries, which is outstanding," said Hillsborough Fire Battalion Chief Jim Chastain at the scene. "It could have been a lot worse."
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue estimates 60 gallons of fuel may have spilled onto the ground. A HazMat team is on scene, handling cleanup.
Traffic slowdowns are expected in the area until mid-afternoon.
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