A small plane registered to a Lawrenceville-based business and co-owned by a Flowery Branch man made an emergency landing on Interstate 85 in northeast Atlanta around 5 p.m. Monday.
There were no injuries reported after the six-passenger 1996 Piper Saratoga landed on the highway near Exit 93, the Shallowford Road exit, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
The airplane’s tail number indicates it is registered to Saratoga Rental Options, which houses the plane in Lawrenceville but has a mailing address in Gainesville, plane co-owner Dominic Ottaviano of Flowery Branch said. Other co-owners reside in Atlanta.
Due to engine failure, pilot Matthew Conway of Atlanta had to land on a southbound stretch of the interstate a few miles from the Peachtree DeKalb Airport. Conway is a flight instructor for American Flyers, located near the airport.
“I spoke with him shortly after the fact, and he said it was engine failure,” said Lindsey Battle, Conway’s fiancee, also of Atlanta. “That’s what I’ve heard on the news also.”
Conway had dropped off a student north of Atlanta and was heading back to the Peachtree DeKalb Airport, Battle said.
DeKalb County Officer Jason Gagnon said the landing went relatively smoothly. Conway managed to avoid hitting any cars as he maneuvered onto the highway. The plane sustained damage as it clipped trees on the way to the ground, twisted the propeller blades and exploded its tires as it landed on the highway.
“We got lucky,” Gagnon said.
Television reports showed traffic snarled for miles as the plane blocked at least four lanes of traffic.
FAA investigators loaded the plane onto a flatbed truck to haul it away and will continue to investigate the incident, Bergen said.