Matt Beal had to do a double-take as he was coming off the Confederation Bridge early Monday afternoon.
The Dorchester, N.B., native was returning from a business trip to Prince Edward Island when he noticed a small airplane taxiing on the highway that connects to the bridge near the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre in Bayfield.
“I didn’t see it land, but as I was coming off the bridge I could see the plane coming toward the bridge on the highway,” said Beal. “He was able to safely get it stopped and he put the tail into the ditch so traffic could continue going by. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me for a minute.”
Beal said he jumped out of his vehicle to see if he could help, but the person with the plane indicated everything was OK and that he had already called for help. Beal isn’t sure what the problem was, but he assumed it was something mechanical.
“He seemed pretty calm and cool about the whole thing,” Beal said. “There was a lot of traffic coming on and off the bridge. I travel across the bridge two or three times a week. To find a time to land when there was no traffic is quite impressive.”
Dean Campbell from the Transportation Safety Board said the board was advised. He said it was a flight from the Moncton Flight College on its way to the Dieppe, N.B.-based flight school from Prince Edward Island.
“One of their aircraft, a DA20, with one student on board conducted a forced approach,” Campbell said. “At this time we’re not going to deploy. We’re collecting data to keep on file.”
Campbell said he’s not sure why the plane landed on the highway, adding the TSB’s investigators are looking into that.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the Sackville detachment received the call at 12:45 p.m. about a plane landing on Highway 16 at Bayfield, N.B.
The highway was reduced to one lane of traffic until the plane was removed from the highway at approximately 2:15 p.m. It’s believed the plane was disassembled in a nearby parking lot and taken back to the flight college’s home base in Dieppe.
She said there was only one occupant on the plane and there were no injuries, although the plane suffered some minor damage.
“From our understanding there was some sort of malfunction and the pilot had to bring the plane down,” Rogers-Marsh said. “Fortunately, no one was injured.”
Rogers-Marsh said it’s unlikely there will be an investigation by the RCMP.