Pilot talks about putting small plane down on busy interstate in Davidson County

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- The pilot of a small plane put an aircraft down safely between two highways Monday afternoon.

Three people were on board the plane. It was on its way from Dayton, Tenn., to Siler City.

Cliff Evans, the pilot, said the plane started sputtering near the end of the flight. He got in contact with an air traffic controller who gave him permission to land at the Davidson County Airport, but Evans said the plane didn’t have enough power to make it to a runway.

Evans said he saw a grassy field between Interstate 85 and Business 85 and eased the aircraft down.

“I was coming down I had to watch the power lines there because they were right above us,” said Evans.

Once he made it to the ground, the pilot’s next challenge was avoiding the cars exiting I-85 for Business 85.

“There was a brown SUV coming and he slowed down,” said Evans. ”I think he saw me before I saw him so he slowed down -- I mean it wasn't even a close situation at all.”

Evans said the driver gave the plane the right of way and Evans crossed the highway and came to rest on the shoulder of the road that leads into Lexington.

All three people on board the plane were uninjured and the plane made it through the ordeal without a scratch.

Evans said there wasn’t anything miraculous about the unexpected landing, it was just a matter of putting into practice all that he learned.

“You train for it, I mean I'm just a private pilot, but the instructor trains you on a daily basis about situations like this happening,” said Evans. “You just have to remain calm.”

The right lane of northbound Business 85 was closed for about three hours following the flight. Eventually, the plane was towed from the highway to the airport to be inspected before it’s given the all clear to fly again.

Evans said he’s ready to get back in the air.

“Life goes on,” said Evans.

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