Update: Pilot did ‘great job’ landing safely on I-10

Published 3:07 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

LAPLACE — Motorists on Interstate 10 in St. John the Baptist Parish had to contend with an unusual traffic delay Monday morning after a small plane experienced engine trouble and was forced to land on the median in between the westbound and eastbound lanes of traffic.

Louisiana State Police spokesperson Melissa Matey said the pilot had just taken off from the Reserve airport when he began experiencing engine trouble.

Local media reports identified the pilot as James Blake, who was headed to Farmerville when he made the emergency landing in his two-seat Cessna 150.

Matey said the pilot safely landed the plane on the I-10 median near milepost 199, close to the St. James-St. John Parish line, at about 11:40 a.m.

Matey said there were no charges filed against the pilot.

“Since he didn’t crash into anything, there’s no crash report,” Matey said. “He did a great job. He found a safe place to land. There were no injuries, and there were no vehicles involved.”

The plane was eventually towed away.

Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport Director Vincent Caire said the emergency landing is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The (RESERVE) airport doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Caire said. “It’s a matter between the pilot, the owner of the aircraft and the FAA. We’re just thankful the gentleman wasn’t injured.”

Elizabeth Isham Cory, FAA public affairs spokeswoman, said the FAA has authority for safety of flight, “so we will look to see if any of the regulations covering safety of flight were violated.”

Cory said investigators would check to see if the pilot was properly licensed and trained, was the plane properly manufactured and maintained and did the pilot follow the rules of flight.

“Our investigations typically take several weeks to complete,” she said.

— Staff writers Lori Lyons and Stephen Hemelt contributed to this report.