‘We’re Gonna Get Killed’: Queens Pilot Who Landed Plane on I-95 Talks About Near-Disaster

After engine problems, he brought the plane down onto the highway after not being able to find the nearest airport after nightfall

What to Know

  • Of all the words that could have potentially been used to describe landing a plane on a highway, the pilot called the whole event “amazing"
  • Rafael Campos can call it amazing because he avoided near-disaster when his single engine landed on I-95 without any injuries
  • After engine problems, he brought the plane down onto the highway after not being able to find the nearest airport

Of all the words that could have potentially been used to describe landing a plane on one of the country’s most-traveled highways, the pilot called the whole incident “amazing.”

Rafael Campos can thankfully call the whole incident “amazing” because he avoided near-disaster when his single engine Commander 112 plane was losing altitude the night of November 9 during what was supposed to be an hour-long flight from Providence, Rhode Island, to Farmingdale on Long Island.

“We’re gonna get killed. All of these thought crossed my mind,” said Campos.

Campos can be heard telling air traffic control that the aircraft had “complete engine failure” and the Queens pilot asked for the nearest airport to land as he was flying at just 3,500 feet in the air. He told NBC New York that the closest one was in “the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees,” saying he would crash into the woods if he couldn’t see the runway in the darkness of the night.

So Campos made a decision: He was going to land the plane right on I-95 in Exeter, Rhode Island. He said he picked the northbound lanes because there was less traffic in those lanes, and made his approach as carefully as he could.

“I kind of try to hold the plane a little bit higher than the roof of the car, so they see me and slow down and give me some room,” Campos said. “And they did.”

Campos was able to land the plane, which was only carrying himself and his sister, and miraculously there were no injuries. He said it was only the second time his sister had ever flown with him.

“I’ve never been hugged by so many strangers,” Campos said. He credited his ability to land the plane safely to his training from current and former instructors.

While it isn’t clear if there will be a third time his sister joins him in the cockpit, Campos said he will be back up in the air as soon as he can.

“That’s my passion,” he said from inside his Woodhaven home.

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