Small Vintage Plane Crashes on Southern California Freeway

(KTLA) -- A small plane crashed on the northbound 101 Freeway in the Agoura Hills area on Tuesday afternoon, leaving all lanes shut down in both directions.

The pilot of the plane issued an emergency alert at around 1:45 p.m. when he lost power after taking off from Van Nuys Airport, CHP Capt. Johnny Starling told FOX40 sister station KTLA.

“He heard a couple of loud pops in the engine … He was able to control it and was trying to land on the 101 Freeway but there was a car in front of him,” Starling said. “So as he landed, touched down, he had to jerk the wheel hard to the left to avoid the vehicle. That’s when he crashed into the center divider.”

Crews responded to the freeway at Liberty Canyon Road just before 2 p.m., according to the L.A. County Fire Department.

The pilot has been removed from the aircraft, the agency said. Footage from the scene shows firefighters extinguishing flames that consumed the body of the plane.

According to CHP, the pilot, who has 30 years of experience and flies for commercial airlines, walked away having only singed his hair from the fire.

Starling said the 101 Freeway was actually a good location to land, as long as there’s no rush hour traffic.

“I think he made a good choice,” the captain told KTLA.

No other vehicles were involved in the incident, according to the Fire Department.

Video shows traffic backed up for miles on the northbound side of the 101.

All northbound and southbound lanes will be closed for an unknown duration, California Highway Patrol tweeted at 1:59 p.m. The Lost Hills and Las Virgenes roads on-ramps have been blocked, according to CHP’s incident information page.

An aviation source provided KTLA with the suspected tail number of the aircraft, which matched the Federal Aviation Administration record for a fixed-wing single-engine plane registered to Condor Squadron, a Van Nuys-based group that flies restored World War II-era aircraft.

“Pilot was able to walk away with no injuries,” a Twitter account for Condor Squadron said. “We will post more info as we are able to release them.”

The aircraft is a T-6 Texan from North American Aviation, a trainer plane that is popular in airshows. The FAA registry for the tail number describes the plane as a 1958 SNJ-5, which is a modified T-6 Texan.

The plane appeared to have been painted in camouflage, with black-and-white crosses on its wings in the manner of a World War II German fighter aircraft.