HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - It was one of those seldom-seen scenes, a plane right there on the highway that became an emergency runway just after 9 am.
"Never seen anything like that," said Road ranger Jeff Williams, who says he saw the plane -- piloted by 64-year-old Craig Pulliam of Tampa -- losing altitude.
"I was up there working another crash and I saw the plane bank to the left," he said. "And that was it. I heard on the police radio it gone down."
The Piper Saratoga II with three on board had just taken off from the Peter O. Knight Airport at Davis Islands, and was only minutes into a trip to Miami when warning lights came on -- and the pilot saw he was rapidly losing oil pressure. He had no choice but to put it down -- on the Interstate.
"There were no injuries," said Hillsborough Fire Rescue Captain Jim Chastain. "The pilot brought it down with no injuries." He went on to explain the damage -- which totaled more than $400,000.
"We did lose the one wing. We have approximately 70 gallons of aviation fuel spilled. There's another 35-40 gallons contained in the other wing."
And as thousands of drivers slowed to a crawl -- many taking camera phone shots of what was a unique photo-op, first-responders turned their attention to how they would get the plane off the roadway.
"We're going to bring in another unit right now and unload that wing," said the Fire Captain, "disassemble that wing, put it on a flatbed trailer and haul it out."
And so they did.
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