Vintage WWII plane crashes on 101
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A vintage WWII plane crashed on the 101 freeway near Agoura Hills on October 23rd. There were no injuries to either the pilot or other people present on the freeway. The Los Angeles County Fire Department reported that the pilot was the only one present in the airplane and managed to get out unharmed.
The vintage airplane was identified as a North American SNJ-5 (T-6), which was a training aircraft used for the United States Army Air Force, Navy, and Royal Air Force during the second World War. This particular aircraft appeared to be a Nazi airplane, although it did not bear any swastikas. The plane is owned by the Condor Squadron, a nonprofit created in 1965 to preserve historical machinery used in World War II. Chris Rushing, president of the nonprofit, said to the Los Angeles Times, “the pilot obviously had a catastrophic failure and had to put it down on the 101. Thank God he’s okay and no one got hurt on the ground.” Rushing identified the pilot as Rob Sandberg, who told KABC-TV, “I picked a spot on the freeway where I knew there was a big section of cars that weren’t there, but the engine completely failed. Fortunately, I was able to not hurt anybody--other than the airplane.” Sandberg is an experienced pilot that flies for Alaska Airlines and has nearly 30 years of commercial flying under his belt.
California Highway Patrol Captain Johnny Starling told KTLA, “[the pilot] heard a couple loud pops in the engine...He was able to control it and was trying to land on the 101 freeway...as he touched down, he had to jerk the wheel hard to the left to avoid the vehicle. That’s when he crashed into the center divider.”
The Los Angeles County Fire Department released a statement that said the airplane landed on the freeway before 2:00 p.m. Traffic going both north and south completely stopped until the left most lanes were reopened around 4:15 p.m., according to Chris Baldonado who is a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. The crash occurred between the on and off ramps, so traffic was redirected off the freeway. All lanes were reopened by 6 p.m. according to CHP on Twitter. Drivers stuck on the freeway took videos and pictures depicting the airplane in flames, with black smoke rising in the air and released them onto the internet. Jennifer Buzza, a local resident and part of the Agoura Hills Community Emergency Response Team, is a first responder who just happened to be driving south on the 101 and was among the first few to arrive on the scene. She told the Camarillo Acorn, “It was unbelievable. First, it’s an old war plane, so you’re already confused. Next, there’s an airplane on the freeway crashing and burning in front of you. It doesn’t compute in your head.”