It was the ultimate rubberneck. Ronald Weaver, a 47-year-old veteran, was making his usual southbound drive home from work Friday afternoon when he saw a row of trucks blocking lanes of Lake Shore Drive.
Sam Burchett, 30, and Hampton Fischer, 35, were biking north when they said they spotted the circle of choppers from miles away. They kept riding to see what was up.
It turned out a small propeller plane had flown under a footbridge to make a miraculous emergency landing on Lake Shore Drive when it lost power after a Wisconsin air show.
“I saw the commotion, and then I saw the yellow wings and the blue body of the plane,” Fischer said.
How could they miss it? Bikers, joggers and dog walkers all stopped to check it out. An officer waved on motorists who’d slowed down to steal a glimpse at the plane sitting on the grassy median after it was moved there by police and fire crews.
Chicago Police said two people were in the plane when it landed at 3:17 p.m. in the 3800 block of South Lake Shore Drive, just south of the 35th Street bridge.
Authorities directed the pilot to land on Lake Shore after the plane started to lose power, police said. No injuries were reported, and the plane wasn’t damaged.
“Unbelievable,” Burchett said.
An hour later, spectators gathered on the roadside and on the same footbridge the pilot had deftly glided under. That’s where Weaver ended up after he took an off ramp because he said he just had to get pictures.
“Looking at this in person, and I know the traffic and how people drive here, the pilot — major kudos,” Weaver said. “I take my hat off to him.”
The police department’s traffic unit and the Chicago Fire Department responded, eventually moving the plane onto the grassy median. Police said crews were trying to remove the plane’s wings so it could be towed away.
Ald. Sophia King (4th) said the plane was flying to Cleveland after taking part in the 2018 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh air show in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“This was something quite unusual,” King said in a media briefing at the scene, calling the incident “miraculous.”
Contributing: Matthew Hendrickson