The pilot of a 1971 Beech Bonanza airplane contacted FAA controllers at Orange County Airport and reported that he was having engine problems around 7:30 pm. Moments later the plane dropped off the radar screens at the Orange County Airport control tower.
The pilot and dozens of motorists almost immediately called 911 and reported the plane had landed on the northbound 55 freeway north of Victoria Street in Costa Mesa.
The pilot told CHP 911 operators that he and his passenger were uninjured.
The plane was reportedly over the ocean just off shore on its way from San Diego to Van Nuys Airport when it developed engine problems. The pilot declared an emergency and diverted towards Orange County Airport.
According to the pilot, the engine stopped completely and his only option was to land on the busy freeway as he quickly lost altitude. He said he came in low, flew under the Victoria Street bridge, and managed to land the plane between cars and rolled to the right side of the freeway as traffic continued to drive by the plane with many people taking cell phone video and pictures from their cars.
Costa Mesa Firefighters and the California Highway Patrol responded and secured the plane and closed several lanes of the freeway.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were notified and will investigate the incident.