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407 Highway landing pilot avoids the spotlight

In Canada on October 10, 2010 at 10:01
Back to 407 Highway landing pilot avoids the spotlight

407 Highway landing pilot avoids the spotlight

October 09, 2010

Dan Robson

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A disabled plane that made an emergency landing on Highway 407 late Friday night is parked in a car lot at Buttonville Airport after it was towed there early Saturday.

CARLOS OSORIO/TORONTO STAR

After landing his plane on Highway 407 in remarkable fashion, Robert Fijalkowski wanted nothing to do with the 15 minutes of fame barrelling his way.

The pilot made a dramatic emergency landing in the westbound lanes of the highway, after a fuel problem caused the plane to lose power late Friday night.

Flying solo, Fijalkowski managed to navigate the 1974 single-engine Piper between an overpass and hydro wires spanning the highway, west of Warden Ave. in Markham.

The plane avoided contact with a small car and a GO Transit bus on the stretch of highway at the time.

It was later towed to Buttonville Airport.

“I think (the pilot) was skilful and fortunate in getting it done,” said Rae Simpson, senior investigator with the Transportation Safety Board.

“This is probably a first for the OPP and for Highway 407,” said OPP Const. Peter Leon.

Indeed, the 407 ETR website mentions nothing about fees for using the highway as a runway.

The plane is registered to a Toronto address, and a woman there confirmed that her husband was flying the plane. She declined to provide her name, or that of her husband.

“He’s a meticulous and detailed person, so he probably did everything he could do and learned how to do,” she said of her husband, who has been a recreational pilot for more than 10 years.

Since the landing, Fijalkowski — who has only been identified through media reports — has declined to speak publicly about his remarkable feat.

A grey Lexus SUV sat outside his elegant grey stone Forest Hill home on Saturday night. However, several door knocks, phone calls, and one neatly written note were all ignored.

A neighbour called the family “very private,” and declined to share more about them.

With files from Allison Cross and Daniela Germano

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