When Florent Gagné needed some air last week the last places he expected to end up were on a freeway and on the evening news. The Quebec City pilot took off for a cobweb-clearing break from self-isolation on Thursday and was over the main freeway to Montreal when the engine in his Piper Cherokee began running roughly. The six-lane divided highway offered the best chance for an off-airport landing and he lined up for the center lane. “Apart from the fact that there are cars, a highway is a very nice landing strip,” Gagné told Radio Canada.
Dashcam footage showed the Cherokee, belching black smoke, descending over the freeway, which had numerous directional signs overhead. Gagne threaded through the obstacles and put the Cherokee between cars close to the middle of the westbound lanes. The engine was still making enough power for Gagné to change lanes and pull over to the side of the freeway. Remarkably, none of the drivers suddenly joined by Gagné stopped to lend a hand although most did put on their hazard lights. As he stopped the Cherokee, the cars behind him simply changed lanes and pulled around the airplane. Gagné called 911 and the undamaged aircraft was loaded on a truck to be returned to the airport. Gagné said carburetor issues caused the unplanned landing.