​Plane Lands On Busy Chicago Expressway​​

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September 22, 2021

A plane was forced to make an emergencyon a busy Chicago expressway after waiting for a gap in the traffic on Sunday, according to authorities. The single-engine aircraft landed in the northbound lane of a stretch of Lake Shore Drive.

The pilot, identified as John Pedersen as being the only person on board, escaped unscathed, and no other injuries were reported, a police spokesman said. The aircraft may have bumped against one or two cars but without causing major damage, the spokesman said.

The pilot said he was having mechanical problems with the tail of his aircraft, the fire department said.

The plane crashed around 12:40 p.m. on the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway less than a mile from the Schaumburg Airport, said Illinois State Police spokesman Lt. Lincoln Hampton, who could not provide any information on possible injuries.

Witnesses told WBBM-AM that drivers on the highway stopped, got out of their cars and helped pull the pilot from the plane, which did not hit any vehicles when it crashed onto the eastbound lanes. Witnesses said the pilot, who was alone in the plane, had a head wound and appeared coherent.

Two hours after landing his airplane on Lake Shore Drive, Pedersen looked out at rows of police cars and news vans as he gave his fiancee directions.

“You can’t miss it,” said the soft-spoken pilot into his cellphone.

Indeed, the sight of an airplane parked on a strip of grass by Buckingham Fountain caused quite the spectacle Sunday morning. Police officers posed for photos, drivers slowed for a closer look, and joggers and bikers on the lakeshore path traded witty one-liners.

Pedersen, of Lombard, had been flying his two-seater plane over downtown Chicago when a stabilizing part broke loose, causing the aircraft to shake violently. Unable to regain stability, the 51-year-old electrician radioed a mayday call to O’Hare Airport. “There’s no way I could have got it to Midway or O’Hare,” he said.

At the time of the mayday call, about 5:45 a.m., he was flying just 1,900 feet above Millennium Park, he said.

Pedersen. who said he had been flying for five years, had decided the drive was his best landing spot. If timed correctly, he figured, he could bring down the plane while traffic was stopped at a red light.

“You pick a landing spot that’s not going to jeopardize anybody else,” he said.