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Pilot lands plane on Interstate 90

Tue., July 6, 2010

A pilot forced to make an emergency landing on the largely deserted Interstate 90 near Post Falls on Sunday night just missed a roadway bridge and power lines, authorities said Monday.

Pilot Michael Eller of Newman Lake and three passengers escaped injury.

Eller and his family had been watching the fireworks show over Lake Coeur d’Alene and were on their way back to Liberty Lake when the engine lost power about 10:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Tim Johnson with the Idaho State Police.

When it came to rest, the substantially damaged 1971 Cessna was blocking part of the eastbound lanes, Johnson said. Because of the power failure, the landing gear was unable to fully engage.

“He did a real good job considering the facts,” Johnson said of the pilot.

One lane of the freeway was shut down for two hours before the plane was moved to the median, where it remained until about 4 p.m. Monday. Although the plane was no longer impacting travel lanes, motorists slowing to look at the plane delayed traffic through the afternoon.

Eller had been flying with his 81-year-old mother, Helen Eller, son William and future daughter-in-law, Kelly Gagmon.

The Federal Aviation Administration is handling the crash investigation.

From staff reports

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