Pilot makes emergency landing on Highway 70

Dan McDonald
Managing Editor


John Schneider stands near his airplane minutes after making an emergency landing on Highway 70, about 10 miles east of Oroville, on Thursday morning. Photo submitted.

The pilot of a small single-engine airplane made a successful emergency landing on Highway 70 after his engine quit Thursday morning, Jan. 17.

John Schneider, 67, of Janesville, was flying from Susanville to Oroville when his Piper Cherokee 180 began to sputter over Quincy about 7:40 a.m.

Schneider, who immediately called Susanville Municipal Airport Manager Steve Datema with his cell phone to report the problem, said he couldn’t land at the Quincy airport because of fog.

According to Datema and the California Highway Patrol, Schneider glided the stalled plane down the Feather River Canyon, looking for a place to make an emergency landing.

“As you probably know, there aren’t a lot of landing spots in the canyon,” CHP Public Information Officer Doug Garret said. “He did a great job, especially under the circumstances he had to deal with. He didn’t panic.”

Schneider, who is considered a very experienced pilot, has more than 1,500 hours of flying time and is commercially rated.

About six minutes after experiencing complete engine failure, Schneider landed the four-seated plane on Highway 70, a few hundred yards east of Cherokee Road. The landing was about 10 miles east of Oroville in Butte County.

Garret said Schneider was able to avoid cars on the road and landed the plane at about 70 miles per hour.

“It only took a few seconds after he touched down to get the plane off to the side of the road,” Garret said. “He did it in less than 300 yards. It was a pretty impressive piece of flying.”

Schneider was the only person in the plane. There were no traffic injuries or accidents at the scene of the landing.

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