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A Prineville pilot, on a flight from the Sacramento area to Prineville, started running low on gas east of Bend Friday evening. At first he thought he could make the Bend Airport but he wasn’t sure he could make it even that far. So he looked for a familiar straight stretch of Highway 20 east of Bend and then set it down. There was no wind at all, so he was able to land right down the middle of the highway, picture perfect.
Pilot William Espinoza, his sister-in-law and her daughter all came to stop just as if they’d arrived at an airport. They maneuvered the plane off the roadway as far as they could and waited for law enforcement to arrive. When sheriff’s deputies pulled up they turned on their overhead emergency flashers on each side of the aircraft and began flagging traffic through using the northbound lane.
Change of plans. Espinoza was allowed by the FAA to simply refuel and continue on to Prineville. Next week he’ll be hearing from the FAA about running out of gas and creating conditions that could have endangered himself, his passengers and the motoring public. The FAA does not take such incidents lightly.