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Plane makes emergency landing on Minnesota highway
A small plane crash-landed and hit a vehicle on a Minnesota interstate, with no injuries reported. A portion of the highway in suburban Minneapolis was closed for several hours. (Dec. 3)
A small plane crashed onto a Minnesota highway and hit another vehicle on Wednesday evening, according to Minnesota State Patrol. No injuries were reported as a result.
Minnesota State Patrol revealed in a report on the incident that the crash happened just before 9:30 on Wednesday evening.
“A single engine Bellanca Viking plane made a suspected emergency landing on a Twin Cities freeway this evening,” Minnesota State Patrol wrote. State troopers responded to the scene after hearing reports of a plane making an “unexpected landing” on the I-35W in Arden Hills, a city in Ramsey County, Minnesota.
“As the plane landed, it crashed into another vehicle that was on I-35W,” the report continued. “There were no injuries as a result of this crash.”
When the report was published Wednesday, the incident remained under an “open and active” investigation.
USA TODAY has reached out to the FAA and the Minnesota Department of Transportation for more information.
Brittany Yurik was the sole passenger in the vehicle that was hit, according to WCCO-TV, a CBS affiliate.
“I saw (the plane) coming at me probably one second before we collided,” Yurik told WCCO-TV.
“I talked to (Gifford) last night,” said Yurik, whose car was totaled. “He’s very kind. He was very apologetic. He explained to me what happened, and I just can’t believe we’re all OK.”
Ramsey County Deputy’s Federation, which responded to the incident with Minnesota State Patrol, shared images of the crash site on Facebook.
“While in flight a small plane appeared to have engine failure,” the Federation said in their post. “The pilot made an emergency landing on 35W.”
The pilot was identified as 52-year-old Craig Gifford, a Minneapolis resident and competitive aerobatic pilot, a sport that involves flying aircraft in a series of maneuvers. Experimental Aircraft Association spokesman Dick Knapinski said Gifford represented the United States in international competition in 2017 and 2019 on the Unlimited Aerobatic Team, which took home the bronze medal at the world championships in South Africa in 2017.
Knapinski said pilots take aerobatic training lessons to learn how to better maneuver aircraft in emergency situations, which he said explains how Gifford’s skills helped him pull off the “textbook emergency landing” on the interstate Wednesday night.
“Pilots are trained to deal with emergency engine problems and things like that if you have to make an emergency landing, and so the combination of that training and certainly (Gifford’s) aerobatic training really paid off in this situation,” he said.
Gifford declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation into the incident by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation and Safety Board.
One other person was on board the plane, the FAA told Fox 9 KMSP.
According to KSTP-TV, an ABC affiliate in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the highway had reopened by Thursday morning after some time closed.
Witnesses told KSTP-TV that they were surprised that no one was injured. Tori Hoehne, a resident of New Brighton a city in Ramsey County, said she heard the crash.
“We were just watching a movie and we heard a super loud thud, and it kind of made us all look at each other, like what was going on?,” Hoehne told KSTP-TV. “Then we just continued watching the movie, and shortly after heard a ton of sirens.”
Contributing: The Associated Press