KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) - A pilot with engine trouble was forced to land on a busy East Texas highway.
It happened in the 3500 block of Highway 259 in south Kilgore, where the pilot was able to taxi into a hotel parking lot.
KLTV spoke with the pilot and a witness who caught part of the landing on camera.
Charles Mayo has been a pilot for 32 years. He was flying pipeline patrol when his engine just stopped he said.
“Well, I just passed the Kilgore Airport and realized I didn’t have enough altitude to make it back there. I looked at the interstate and that was too busy, so I looked at this highway; looked at some pastures and rejected them,” Mayo said.
He only had one thought.
“I just have to get down safely. That’s all that went through my head,” Mayo stated.
He thought his best bet was Highway 259.
“First I had to miss the signs that were going across the highway up here. And there was a truck ahead of me, and I was trying to avoid him, and luckily, he saw me and hit the gas,” Mayo relayed.
Brandi Clayton was on Highway 259 behind the plane.
“The next thing I know the plane started descending, and I was unaware if it was going to crash or what was going to happen. But I just slowed up, and it just landed right on 259,” she said.
She was able to get some cell phone video of the plane taxiing on Highway 259 and then turning into the parking lot of the Executive Inn in Kilgore.
“I coasted all the way almost to this point,” Mayo said.
Another witness had pulled over and ran across the street to Mayo’s aid.
“He helped me push it the last 20 or 30 feet,” Mayo said.
Mayo has become experience in emergency landing.
“I’ve had to do it before,” he said.
“What happened there?” I asked him.
“Same thing,” he replied.
About two years ago, he had engine trouble but had a much rougher landing in a pasture in Panola County, according to his call to 911 in 2017.
“Are you injured?” the 911 operator asked. “Yeah, I am. I’m bleeding profusely from the head,” Mayo said.
This time, he had no injuries and much less damage to the plane.
The Federal Aviation Administration will inspect the plane after it’s transported to a nearby airport. They did not respond to the scene since the plane did not crash.