BELLINGHAM Nobody was hurt when a Cessna airplane made an emergency landing on Interstate 5, clipping a blue Sedan on the way down Friday, Aug. 31.
The single-engine aircraft was heading from the Spokane area to Bellingham for its annual maintenance checkup, the pilot, Tony Dulley, said later with a smirk.
Dulley, of Spokane, had pulled around the south side of Mount Baker at a height of 10,000 feet and started his descent about 1:30 p.m.
As he reached about 6,000 feet, he said, moisture in the air iced the carburetor and cut off fuel to the engine.
Everything went silent.
It was the first time Shelby Rush his girlfriend, who later admitted she has a phobia of flying had flown with
Dulley. But she trusted his two decades of experience as a pilot.
Dulley, a former helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps, tried flipping to his backup fuel tank. But that didnt help, even though he had a quarter of a tank left.
The rudders still worked, so he glided toward the airport and flew a distance of about 7 miles, all told, after the engine trouble started.
He radioed to air traffic control that he might need to make an emergency landing. Washington State Patrol troopers tried to cut off I-5 traffic so Dulley could land on clear pavement.
Troopers didnt make it in time; Dulley didnt make it to the airstrip.
Rush could see the freeway traffic wasnt slowing down as the Cessna 182 came within feet of them, close enough that drivers could see the plane in their rearview mirrors.
Nobody was honking or anything, she said.
The 1957 plane clipped the top of a blue 2012 Toyota Corolla, shattering its rear window and denting the back of the roof, said Trooper Brandon Lee.
The car sustained about $1,500 in damage, but neither the driver, Habte Micael, 65, nor his passenger, Kidisti Micael, 52, were hurt. The pair, from Antelope, Calif., couldnt be reached for comment.
Still, the plane landed safely in the northbound lanes.
Traffic was stopped for only a couple minutes as the plane taxied from north of Bakerview Road to the Slater Road exit. It came to a stop at an Arco gas station.
Dulley and Rush, who have been dating for about nine months, kissed and held each other after they hopped from the cockpit, where they had sat side by side.
Asked if she was shaken up, Rush said, I am, hes not. Hes a pilot, so hes used to this kind of thing.
Its true: Dulley was cool and collected after touching down. He smiled and said he felt great.
Easier than getting shot at in Iraq, he said.
He gestured to the scrum of U.S. Border Patrol agents, state troopers, sheriffs deputies and bystanders who came to gawk and said, This is more nerve-wracking, to tell you the truth.
Port of Bellingham officials and law enforcement agreed to let the plane taxi along Pacific Highway to Bellingham International Airport, a distance of almost 4 miles.
Sheriffs deputies cordoned off the area around the plane. Ethanol-free fuel was delivered to the plane in canisters, because a Cessna on the ground gets terrible mileage.
Employees said it was the first time theyd seen a plane getting fueled up at the Arco.
Because of its wingspan, it needed to come in the airport gate at an angle.
Its just like moving furniture, said Daniel Creech, a commercial pilot who helped coordinate getting fuel for the plane. Except this is furniture that flies.
Federal officials will conduct an investigation into the emergency landing.
While taxiing to the airport, the Cessnas wingtip clipped a traffic sign, causing minor damage.
The plane arrived at the airport by 4:30 p.m. a little late for its checkup but still in one piece.