Traffic-reporting plane lands on highway

September 1, 2009 1:02:46 PM PDT
A traffic-reporting plane with engine trouble caused a jam of its own late Tuesday morning when it made an emergency landing on a Massachusetts highway. The pilot called Norwood Memorial Airport at about 11 a.m. to report that he was having engine trouble and would have to land on Interstate 495 in Mansfield, about 25 miles southwest of Boston, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters. The two men aboard the plane were uninjured, but the cleanup caused a several-mile backup.

Peters did not immediately know where the Piper Cherokee was from or where it was headed. The assistant manager of the Norwood airport said he did not think the plane was headed there.

The pilot and passenger were already out of the plane when Mansfield fire officials arrived soon after the landing. The two were evaluated by paramedics as a precaution. State police identified the pilot as Matthew Kleindienst, 24, of Stoughton, and the passenger as Brian Souza, 21, of Stoneham.

A plane with the same registration number is listed on the Web site of East Coast Aero Club, a Bedford-based flight school and rental entity. Mark Holzwarth, president and owner of East Coast Aero Club, did not immediately return phone calls.

The plane wound up nose-down and with a collapsed undercarriage, taking up nearly all three southbound lanes of the highway. Firefighters used foam and sand to soak up leaking fuel.

State police temporarily closed the entire southbound side of Interstate 495 on Tuesday afternoon as authorities removed the plane. The lanes were reopened just before rush hour traffic.

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