LITCHFIELD, Maine — Christine Powers was driving north on the Maine Turnpike on her way to the State House in Augusta Friday morning when a small plane came into her view.
“I just kind of thought, oh, that’s a little strange,” said Powers, a State Representative from Naples who serves on the Legislature’s transportation committee.
What Powers saw at mile marker 95 was more than a little strange. A single-engine Maine Warden Service plane made an emergency landing in the highway’s northbound lanes after running out of fuel, according to the Maine Turnpike Authority.
The plane landed around 9 a.m., moved off the highway and parked at the old Litchfield service plaza within a few minutes.
A little over two hours later, after the plane was refueled and police stopped traffic, the plane safely took off at approximately 11:15 a.m. using the highway as a runway.
Ironically, Powers, who lives in Naples, was heading to a transportation committee meeting at the state house when the unusual events unfolded.
“It was just kind of crazy,” Powers said. “I was thinking we’re all going to have to stop, but he did a great job landing and then turning out of the way of the traffic and then we all started driving again, heading to work.”
Maine Turnpike Authority Public Relations Manager Dan Morin said traffic was never in any danger.
“It could’ve caused a traffic problem had it not been near that service plaza,” Morin said.
Powers said she was among six vehicles who were close to the landing area when the plane came down, but they weren’t so close that they had to slam on the brakes.
“We just slowed down and had plenty of time to react to that,” said Powers.
Upon arriving in Augusta, Powers checked Facebook to see if anyone had posted anything related to the incident, and when she saw that Morin had written a post on the MTA’s Facebook page, she didn’t hesitate to fill everyone in on what she saw.
“It’s one of those things that happens that you can’t absorb,” she said.