Engine failure forces pilot to land ultralight plane on North Delta highway

NORTH DELTA — Talk about distracted driving!

A local pilot freaked out rush hour motorists when his amphibian ultralight airplane lost power and he was forced to land it on Highway 91 early Wednesday evening.

“Apparently some of the witnesses said they could see him in their rear-view mirror,” said Sgt. Sarah Swallow, of the Delta Police. Everybody pulled over enabling him to land. Swallow said it was “amazing” nobody was seriously injured.

Paul Deane-Freeman, 49, was alone in the ultralight and was flying over Delta after talking off from the King George Airpark in Surrey.  He told News1130 his engine seized up 1,200 feet in the air.

As for the emergency landing, he told the radio station, "I guess one wing tip did clip a speed sign and messed up the landing. So it hit hard, really hard." Deane-Freeman was taken to hospital to be treated for a back injury and was released that same night.

It happened just after 6 p.m., in the southbound lanes south of 64th Avenue.

Swallow said Delta Police are working with the National Transportation and Safety Board to complete the investigation.

Last month, a small airplane crashed in Surrey near the Serpentine River, but nobody was hurt.

It happened on a private landing strip in the 4700-block of King George Boulevard. The pilot and passenger, both Port Coquitlam residents, were taking off when the single engine airplane crashed.

The plane dipped to the right, the landing gear was caught in bushes at the end of the runway and the plane nosed down into the ground."

Neither the pilot or passenger was injured but the airplane was damaged. Surrey firefighters and the B.C. Ambulance were called to the scene.

There have been several crashes in Surrey involving small aircraft.

In 2007 a Delta pilot crashed nose-first into a farmer’s field after taking off from a private airstrip in the 900-block of 176th Street. He managed to climb to about 150 feet before apparently losing power. He was airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital where he was treated for leg and other injuries.

In 1998 a pilot and passenger died when the two-seater ultralight airplane they were flying crashed into a farmer’s field shortly after taking off from the King George airstrip.

In April 2001, a Korean man died when he crashed 15 minutes after his mini helicopter took off from the airpark and in 2000 two men were injured in separate crashes, in March and August, shortly after takeoff from the King George airstrip.

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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