Distressed airplane lands on highway in Canada and, of course, everyone is chill

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No runway? No problem … At least, not when it comes to your distressed Piper PA-28 Cherokee, and not when you happen to be surrounded by the even-tempered, considerate folk of the Great White North. A cellphone video by Facebook user Mathieu Leclerc caught a video of just such a calmly-avoided cataclysm on Highway 40 just south of the Québec City International Airport.

From the early portion of the footage, we can see what appears to be smoke coming out of the plane, although there’s no way to know whether that’s the plane’s exhaust or something more serious. As the plane descends, those using the highway for more conventional purposes calmly slow down—a few are even considerate enough to toss their hazards on—and slow to clear some, erm, runway for the distressed aviator. Thankfully, nobody was hurt during the hasty landing.

Kudos to the pilot for finding a way to avoid the overhead signs spanning the width of the road. I’d venture to say that’s no small task to safely ground something that’s long as a Ford F-350 Super Duty and as wide as two traffic lanes.

Here in the States, federal regulations dictate that, should an issue arise with an aircraft while in the air, the pilot is allowed to take whatever actions necessary to safely land the plane. Road-going conventions become an afterthought when trying to avoid swift and destructive departure from the sky—as it should be. In fact, landing on a roadway is technically not illegal under Federal Aviation Regulations; bush pilots do it all the time. Sometimes, however, emergency landings on roadways can run afoul of local laws, and the pilot-turned-driver can still end up with a ticket from the local sheriff.

Canada has similar regulations when it comes to rules of the air, forbidding take-offs, approaches, or landings within built-up areas (apart from designated military or civilian airstrips) unless, “in the event of an engine failure or any other emergency necessitating an immediate landing, the aircraft can land without creating a hazard to persons or property.”

We’re not sure whether or not the distressed pilot will face paperwork or not, but it’s safe to say a traffic violation would be a small price to pay in this instance.


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