A pilot walked away after a plane crashed on Highway 101 in Agoura Hills.
Yazmin Cruz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 805-437-0392
The pilot of a World War II era plane that crash landed Tuesday afternoon on Highway 101 near Agoura Hills was able to walk away, authorities said.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department was notified at 1:48 p.m. about the plane along the northbound lanes of Highway 101 near the Liberty Canyon Road exit.
Crews arrived to find the plane on fire, smoke billowing upward, but it was knocked down by 2:14 p.m., fire officials said. The pilot, a man, was not injured, they said.
The crash landing halted traffic in the region during busy commuter hours. Another injury collision, involving the spill of pool chemicals, was reported shortly before 3 p.m. on westbound Highway 118 and closed the two right lanes, according to the California Highway Patrol. Smaller fender-benders were reported throughout the region.
Patrol officials received reports of the smoking plane hovering over the freeway about 1:45 p.m. Minutes later callers told authorities the aircraft was now on the freeway, Officer Chris Baldonado said.
By 5 p.m., CHP had opened one northbound lane and two southbound lanes for commuters. Traffic was previously being was diverted at the Lost Hills exit on the northbound side and Liberty Canyon on the southbound side, Baldonado said. But authorities advised commuters to stay away from the area entirely and take alternate routes, he said.
Motorists traveling through Ventura County were advised to take Topanga Canyon Road, Highway 118 and Pacific Coast Highway.
With the crash landing, the CHP was tasked with securing the scene before investigators arrived to look into what happened, Baldonado said.
That meant both sides of the freeway were shut down by 1:54 p.m. near the scene, although some lanes were reopened three hours later, Baldonado said.
“We have the job of coordinating traffic now,” he said.
Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath said the heavy traffic on Highways 23 and 101 prompted the department increase staffing by three fire engines in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Moorpark in case they were dispatched to an emergency call.
“We’ll call it pre-positioning planning,” McGrath said.
Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration, said the agency had been notified of the plane crash and that the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board was going to investigate. Aside from the plane’s model and the substantial damage it sustained, little more was known about the incident as of 5 p.m.
“A North American SNJ-5 airplane crashed on Highway 101 near the Liberty Canyon Exit under unknown circumstances,” Kenitzer said in an email to The Star.
The pilot was the only person on board the aircraft, and there were no reports of property damage or injuries on the ground, Kenitzer said.
Diana Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the Van Nuys Airport, confirmed the plane was part of the Condor Squadron, a nonprofit vintage flying club based out of the airport. She did not know where the plane was headed or whether the plane flew from Van Nuys or not.
The squadron performs mock dogfights for air shows and flies in formation over parades, memorial services and events commemorating veterans, said president Chris Rushing. He said the plane was a North American AT-6.
The aircraft was flown by the U.S. Army Air Force, but the same model was known as SNJ when used by the Navy.
“The pilot did a great job getting it down and not hitting any cars,” Rushing said.
The pilot, whose name was not immediately released and flies professionally for Alaska Airlines, was out on a training exercise, Rushing said. He didn’t know what caused the crash.
The plane was painted with World War II-era German air force markings, Rushing said.
Associated Press reports contributed to this story.
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