When Thomas Lupski drove along the Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County, New York, on Thursday, he probably didn’t expect to encounter a plane. The real estate agent captured footage of a pilot in a single-engine plane making an emergency stop in front of his vehicle.
The footage is surreal. It shows the plane gradually landing on the road, before steering onto a grass patch on the side of the highway. Even when stationary, the wings stretch back out onto the highway.
“It was close, it was really close,” Lupski told ABC7 News. “Everybody behind me was swerving, pulling over, things like that. Everybody did the right thing, they gave him plenty of room. They backed off, when I slowed down everybody else slowed down, and he had plenty of room to land.”
It could have been far worse. The incident, which occurred at 1 p.m. Eastern on the westbound lanes at exit 57, just missed the rush hour traffic. Deputy commissioner John Barry told reporters that the pilot would have seen bumper-to-bumper traffic in just a few hours time.
It’s unclear at this stage what went wrong. The pilot claims to have no idea, and the Federal Aviation Administration is still conducting an investigation into the incident.
“It wasn’t good, but here I am,” Jim O’Donnell told the news outlet.
The incident comes days after a passenger jet nearly landed on the wrong strip in San Francisco. An Air Canada flight from Toronto was cleared for landing at runway 28R at the city’s international airport, but alarmed pilots realized the plane was positioned to land on the taxiway. Quick thinking from the plane’s pilots avoided what could have been the “greatest aviation disaster” ever, as three stationary passenger jets were prepared for takeoff on taxiway C.
Watch the dramatic moment below: