Bonanza Bounces Off Truck In Highway Landing


The pilot and lone occupant of a V-tailed Bonanza escaped injury when he set the plane down on a tractor trailer before settling onto a freeway near Houston on Sunday. The aircraft, registered to a Michigan company, had just departed West Houston Airport when it lost power and the pilot headed for northbound lanes of state highway 99.

Local authorities said the aircraft was on a “survey” mission when the accident occurred about 11:15 a.m. The aircraft was substantially consumed by the post-crash fire. The truck driver wasn’t hurt.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Pilot: There is a road below me, I’ll set down there and land with the traffic
    Hooks Tower: I show you over 99
    Pilot: Yea, my landing speed is 90.

  2. I still don’t get the obsession with landing on an area covered in fixed and moving HARD obstacles. Unless there is no other choice, but often there is.
    Roads are NOT runways.

    • Area is built up with tract homes. 99 is big, and would have grabbed his attention. Very likely the best choice, though it used to have lots of grassy areas set aside for future lanes. I haven’t been out there in a long time, and don’t know where he actually landed.

    • Video of the accident now out, looking across wide-open green spaces…
      Not definitive, maybe he somehow couldn’t get beyond the highway.

  3. Through other sources, I’ve learned the crash occurred on 99 near Cypress Rosehill Rd. There is plenty of undeveloped land in this area. Again, we as pilots accept the risk of engine failure when we take off. It is improper and unacceptable to transfer that risk to non-participants on the roads. There will be times when a road is the best option, but I have a hard time believing this was one of those times.

  4. I bet you nay sayers would have done the same thing, land on a road or a highway after an engine out. Once again the pilot and passengers walked away from it and it looks like no automobile occupants were hurt. Until you have had to force land I don’t want to hear it from you.

    • I think You’re right in the last sentence of Your comment (“Until you have had to force land …”).

  5. I really think landing on a highway with the traffic may often be the best choice. A non-divided highway would naturally have more risk to injury to those on the ground. I seem to remember seeing many road landings on this site and I don’t recall any that harmed those on the road. I am sure that have been, but I think the percentage is pretty low. Perhaps someone who is good at research could provide the statistics.

  6. Too many 50 year old airplanes flying with primitive engines that have been overhauled multiple times. It’s 2023, shouldn’t aviation demand better, more reliable technology under the cowling? This is the best industry can do?

      • When with PHI in ’88 as an A&P I asked a visiting Bell engineer why they didn’t put access panels in the rear cabin directly over the chip detector plugs on the 212 Twin-Pac and he said “Who’s going to pay for it?” Totally agree with your comment.

    • Jack E is correct. The problem is a vicious soup of decades of regulation that prevented innovation (and yes, there were reasons for that but now we’re paying the bill), falling demand for small aircraft that took away the benefits of mass production resulting in costs so high that customers can’t afford to pay for innovation, and juries that think small airplanes are airliners and “shouldn’t ever crash” so they make huge awards against manufacturers and everyone else involved whenever there’s an accident. So here we are, with too many 50-year-old airplanes flying with primitive engines that have been overhauled multiple times. The most innovative economy in the world, and we have an aviation scene that looks like the automotive scene in Cuba: almost the entire fleet answers to the term “lovingly, intensively-maintained antique”.

      • The problem with Jack is his tone of “demanding” others do something. If you want a turbine powered unstallable rigid skinned airship then build it. No one is going to stop you building a new aircraft that meets higher safety margins.

        • Actually, the government almost certainly will. And they have their reasons – some of them quite good.

          But, fair point. This IS, in fact, the best industry can do, under the circumstances.