Plane Makes Emergency Landing on Massachusetts Highway

September 3, 2009

A small plane with engine trouble made an emergency landing on a Massachusetts highway late Tuesday morning, causing a traffic jam but no injuries.

The two men aboard had been practicing stalls _ slowing down the airspeed to the point that the wings stopped giving the plane lift, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters.

“But the engine just quit and didn’t restart,” said Peters.

Around 11 a.m., the pilot called Norwood Memorial Airport to report that he was having engine trouble and would have to land the 35-year-old single-engine Piper Cherokee on Interstate 495 in Mansfield, about 25 miles southwest of Boston, Peters said.

The pilot and passenger were already out of the plane when Mansfield fire officials arrived soon after the landing. The two were evaluated by paramedics as a precaution. State police identified the pilot as Matthew Kleindienst, 24, of Stoughton, and the passenger as Brian Souza, 21, of Stoneham.

The plane wound up nose-down and with a collapsed undercarriage, taking up nearly all three southbound lanes of the highway. Firefighters used foam and sand to soak up leaking fuel.

State police temporarily closed the entire southbound side of Interstate 495 on Tuesday afternoon as authorities removed the plane. The lanes were reopened just before rush hour traffic.

A plane with the same registration number is listed on the Web site of East Coast Aero Club, a Bedford-based flight school and rental entity. Mark Holzwarth, president and owner of East Coast Aero Club, did not immediately return phone calls.

The plane had not been monitoring automobile traffic from above, as initially reported by the FAA, Peters said.

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