Published Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 | 6:53 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 | 8:47 p.m.
FALMOUTH, Maine — A pilot experiencing engine trouble managed to land his small plane on a Maine interstate during rush hour without damaging any vehicles or causing injuries, but the episode caused a traffic jam that stretched for miles Thursday evening, state police said.
The pilot reported problems while flying from Waterville to Portland and had to set his plane down on Interstate 295 in Cumberland, then taxied several hundred yards into Falmouth, according to state police.
The single-engine Cessna 152 was parked on the side of the highway, limiting southbound travel to one lane. Traffic quickly backed up about 10 miles to Freeport, and northbound traffic backed up as well, officials said.
The pilot, Sachin Hejeji of Falmouth, was trying to make it to the Portland International Jetport but had to land on the highway, according to officials.
Jacob Alves, 27, was carpooling home from Yarmouth when he saw brake lights flashing and the plane's landing lights ahead. He said the pilot was out of the plane by the time his vehicle passed.
Alves said he saw the lights coming down and didn't realize what happened until they reached the plane.
"Traffic was just trying to get around it," he said. Some drivers tried to go around while others just drove under the plane's wing as it overhung the left-hand lane.
The Maine Department of Transportation planned to load the airplane on a flatbed truck and haul it to a DOT lot in Yarmouth, said spokesman Ted Talbot. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.