A small, lightweight aircraft had to make an emergency stop on Interstate 81 near Bristol Friday night. Virginia State Police said it happened on the northbound side of the interstate at Exit 7 between Bristol and Abingdon, Virginia.
The pilot was the only one in the plane was not hurt. VSP said the pilot was having trouble after the fuel gauge suddenly dropped from a full tank to a half tank. Because of the immediate risk of running out of fuel and crashing, the pilot put the plane down gently on the interstate instead of heading to the Virginia Highlands Airport in Abingdon — thankfully, without hitting any vehicles.
“He did a great job not hitting anyone or anything,” a VSP trooper said.
Police said the pilot didn’t call ahead to land, saying these kinds of emergency landings ‘just happen.’ They said the plane had been purchased that morning.
I-81 was down to one lane for more than an hour as crews responded. The plane was eventually towed away on a flatbed truck, and all lanes have reopened.