South Sound News

Small plane's emergency landing on Pierce County street caught on camera

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — When Trooper Clint Thompson spotted a small airplane heading for Pacific Avenue on Wednesday morning, he turned on his flashing lights and his dashboard camera as the plane flew over him.

Turning to block traffic, Thompson followed in the northbound lanes as the pilot struggled, without power to bring the aircraft down safely and even managing to stop at the red light at 138th street.

PHOTOS: Plane lands on busy Pierce County highway

Drivers on Pacific Avenue couldn’t believe what was happening as the plane came closer and closer.

“I looked up and couldn’t figure out what I was seeing,” said Dennis Diessner. "'Cause you don’t see a plane landing every day on Pacific Avenue. I could have reached out and touched the tip of his wing, that’s how close I was to that plane.”

Jason Piersall saw the plane coming right at him and realized it was about to hit his car.

“We had to dodge the plane. As soon as we turned off the road, the plane touched down. The guy was all over the place, but he saved it. It was pretty cool,” laughed Piersall.

Pilot David Acklam said he was flying the single-seat plane to work from a small airstrip in Yelm when he suddenly lost power. He searched for a safe place to land and aimed for the two northbound lanes of the busy arterial.

Fortunately, Thompson was headed south on Pacific right at that moment and turned north, pulling in behind him just before he touched down, blocking traffic and clearing the roadway for landing.

“Probably saved me from either serious injury or death,” said Acklam. “And somebody else from getting into a car crash with a plane. So thanks to the state patrol, and it’s a good day to be alive."

Dashcam video (see above) shows Thompson approaching the plane, knocking on the fuselage as Acklam popped open the cockpit. No one was injured. For Thompson, it was a first in his long career on the road.

“In 21 years, I would say that’s the first time I ever went across the radio and said that there’s a plane that landed on Pacific Avenues,” said Thompson.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

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