VALPARAISO | The pilot of a single-engine plane shared the southbound lanes of Ind. 49 with commuters late Tuesday afternoon when he was forced to make an emergency landing.
The pilot and another man on board were not injured after the unusual landing, apparently prompted by engine trouble.
Police at the scene said the pilot was attempting to reach the Porter County Regional Airport, about one mile away, but instead put the plane down along the southbound lanes of the highway, just north of LaPorte Avenue.
Shanna Cauley was heading north on Ind. 49 and found herself directly in front of the plane as it came down, she said.
"I thought it was going to hit me for sure," she said.
Cauley, 25, of Kouts, began to swerve left and right on the road opposite of the plane's movements.
"He was coming head on at me," she said. "It was like we were playing a game of chicken."
A man in the truck driving near Cauley pulled over on the side of the road, exited his vehicle and started running from the area, she said.
"I think he thought the plane was crashing," she said. "I thought the plane was crashing, and I couldn't do anything."
The plane remained intact and came to rest on the far right shoulder of the highway. The right southbound lane was closed, but traffic remained flowing through the area. Many motorists slowed to look at the plane and many took photos on their cellphones.
Times correspondent Heather Augustyn said she heard the plane's engine sputtering when it flew very low over the Wake Robin subdivision in Chesterton just before the landing.
A towing service was called to remove the plane from the road.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration were on scene for a short time, gathering information. An FAA representative said no further information about the flight was immediately available.
Neither the FAA nor the pilot or passenger on the plane would speak to reporters at the scene.