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Plane makes landing on Duluth highway

DULUTH - A Cirrus airplane on a demonstration flight made an emergency landing on the Minnesota Highway 61 expressway on the northern fringe of Duluth shortly before noon Wednesday.

The plane, carrying three people, was headed up the shore when it began to experience engine problems, said acting assistant Duluth Fire Department Chief Jarry Keppers.

"The engine ate itself for breakfast. That doesn't happen often, but every now and then it does," said Bill King, Cirrus' vice president of business administration. He explained that the engine apparently threw a rod shortly after takeoff, causing the aircraft to lose power. Cirrus had received the 2007 SR22 as a trade-in.

King credited the pilot, Justin Krom, a Cirrus employee, for keeping his cool and landing the airplane on the highway, which he called "the only smart place to put it down."

Keppers said Krom landed in the northbound lanes of Highway 61. No one was injured.

"Here's the ridiculous part," King said. "They land safely, and the traffic starts honking at them. As if an airplane would be on the highway if it was working properly."

The pilot and passengers, he added, "just burst out laughing at the situation."

The airplane was towed from the roadside to a storage area. Arrangements were being made Wednesday to return the plane, via flatbed truck, to Cirrus.

Krom declined to be interviewed on the scene.