A man has escaped the fiery blaze of his vintage single-engine plane after it crash-landed on a freeway in Southern California on Tuesday, CBS Sacramento reported.
The plane went down during a training exercise, hitting the center divider of the U.S. 101. The pilot was safely removed from the destroyed plane, escaping the crash with nothing more than singed hair. He was able to avoid hitting any vehicles as the plane went down, but did cause a back-up of cars on the freeway just 30-miles west of Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.
The pilot's name was not immediately released, but it is known that he is a commercial airline pilot employed by Alaskan Airlines, and has 30-years of flying under his belt. He was unable to give an explanation for the sudden crash.
The North American AT-6 Texan he was flying at the time of the accident belonged to the Condor Squadron, a "group that performs mock dogfights for air shows and flies in formation over parades, memorial services and events commemorating veterans."
The plane was decorated with Nazi insignia from World War II. While not an antique Reich original, the fighter plane was branded with the signature Balkenkreuz, an Iron Cross-like symbol used on Nazi planes and armored vehicles both before and during the war.Condor Squadron explained that the insignia was solely for the purpose of mock dogfights and parades. Despite this, many may find the insignia disturbing, particularly in light the sudden resurgence of Nazi symbolism in the U.S. and an incident that required an emergency landing by another plane mocked up to appear as a Nazi-built Messerschmitt BF 109 with a swastika on a highway in Georgia last year. In that instance, the pilot, Fred Meyer explained away the Nazi symbol by saying it was "just for fun," as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
"A lot of people like to paint these planes up like old warbirds," was Meyer's explanation for the unpopular design.
After the incident on Tuesday, the president of Condor Squadron, Chris Rushing, praised the pilot for being able to avoid traffic on the freeway as he went down.
"The pilot did a great job getting it down and not hitting any cars. The pilot obviously had a catastrophic failure and had to put it down on the 101. Thank God he's OK and no one got hurt on the ground."
The Los Angeles Times reported that the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation into the accident.