A retired air traffic controller piloting a small plane to western Montana for a vacation wasn't exactly cleared for a landing when his plane's engine died—good thing the highway was empty. The Colorado pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on an unusually empty stretch of US Highway 93 just north of Darby yesterday morning when his Cessna 182 appeared to run out of fuel. But it was a false alarm: The plane was mistakenly drawing fuel from only one of its two tanks, a highway patrol trooper said. Once on the ground, the pilot discovered the problem and switched tanks.
"He was pretty embarrassed," the trooper said. "He actually got pretty lucky because there's a fair amount of traffic on that road. Without the engine running he had no control over where he was going to land." No one was injured, and the landing could've gone far worse. The two-lane highway is flat in the area where the plane came down, but there are trees on both sides. Hollis also was lucky to avoid power lines in the area, the trooper said. Troopers closed the road so the plane could take off again.