The plane, a six-passenger 1996 model Piper Saratoga registered in Gainesville, Ga., experienced engine failure before reaching nearby Peachtree-DeKalb Airport, Kathleen Bergen with the FAA told the AJC. The plane is registered to Saratoga Rental Options, she said.
"It apparently indicated there was a problem and landed on I-85 southbound," Bergen said.
Only two right lanes of I-85 south were open following the landing, which happened shortly before 5 p.m. Witnesses told WSB Radio the plane seemed to come out of nowhere, and there was little time to react.
A flatbed trailer arrived to move the plane from the interstate about 45 minutes later.
The plane, a beige and burgundy colored, landed in the HOV lane, clipping trees on the way down. The FAA will investigate the incident, Bergen said.
The pilot was the only person on board, William Smith, deputy fire chief for DeKalb County, told the AJC. The plane was approaching Peachtree-DeKalb Airport and started experiencing engine failure, Smith said.
"At that point, you have about 30 seconds to make a decision ... he probably saw 85 and went to land," Smith said.
“My hats off to the pilot," Smith said. "He did a good job landing that plane."
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