OCC plane lands on local road

An OCC aviation student and his instructor were forced to land on Red Hill Avenue last week when their airplane lost power. Motorists were shocked to see the small Piper Cherokee coming in for a landing on the city street. No one was hurt and the plane was removed and towed back to John Wayne Airport.

A small plane carrying an OCC student and an instructor made an emergency landing on Red Hill Avenue in Irvine last week, stopping traffic and shocking motorists.

The plane landed on the city street at 6:18 p.m. after the engine stopped midflight. There were no injuries or damage to the plane.

During an exercise designed to teach students how to take off and land an aircraft, known as a touch and go exercise, the engine stopped and the instructor was forced to take control of the plane, Daniel Schrader, OCC dean of Technology said.

“The plane wasn’t high enough to be able to land back on the air strip it had just taken off from and was forced to land on the nearest open space,” Schrader said.

Because it was close to rush hour, Red Hill was full of traffic when the Piper Cherokee landed, with nearby cars coming to a stop to allow the plane room to land.

On lookers to the event, particularly those driving on Red Hill as it happened, said they were surprised by what they saw when they came to a halt to allow the plane to stop.

“It was crazy watching the fire trucks and police officers swarm to the scene after the plane had landed. You don’t expect to see a plane land on the street in front of you every day,” said Rudy de Leon, 42, who was on Red Hill at the time.

It is unclear what happened to the engine, though Schrader speculated that the engine simply got flooded or did not receive enough gas as the pilots changed the throttle.

The engine is set to be inspected once TRC, the company that manages OCC’s aircrafts and instructs the aviation pilot students, is able to get the airplane back into the airport.

It is currently sitting outside the airport gate due to its 30-foot wingspan being wider than the 20-foot gate and its inability to fold the wings up.

Officials expected there not to be severe damage to the plane’s engine.

Schrader said problems with the aircraft were a surprise to those involved because the plane had been flown to Ramona Airport in San Diego only days before and had also had a full inspection only 20 flight hours prior.

The ill-fated outing was the first time the student had flown with the OCC Aviation Pilot Training program but Schrader said the student was exhilarated as the plane was being taken down and is eager to fly again soon.

The name of the student hasn’t been released.

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