The pilot of an Aero Commander 100 did a particularly nice job of setting his faltering aircraft down on Highway 74 near Sandlin Bridge, North Carolina, on July 3. The aircraft, one of just 150 singles with the Mooney-like forward canted tail built in the late 1960s, reportedly had engine problems and five lanes of asphalt was below. A wing-mounted camera captured the story the uninjured pilot, Vincent Fraser, and his passenger will tell for the rest of their lives.
After committing to the highway landing, a curve in the road looms within the touchdown area and a set of power lines complicates the calculation. The pilot elects to duck under the wires, which gives him some extra speed. The pilot still manages to touch down in the center left turn lane while in a right turn but strays briefly into the oncoming lanes. The driver of an approaching pickup plays a part in the successful outcome by getting out of the way as the pilot hits the brakes to squeal the tires and slow down. Under control and out of danger, the pilot spots a turnoff and clears the highway with no damage and minimal disruption. The plane was fixed and took off from the highway a couple of days later.
Fraser talked about the incident with NBC News and said the aircraft wasn’t climbing the way it should to clear the mountains on his route to Florida. The aircraft and everyone involved is fine but something has changed for Fraser. The former Marine said it caused him to reevaluate his flying and he may hang up his headset. “It pulled something out of my heart,” he said.”That passion kind of left.