Updated: 12:00 BST, 24 February 2010>
A pilot was forced top land his plane on a U.S. highway during rush hour yesterday after he ran out of fuel and his engine cut out.
Joe Durousseau was returning from a humanitarian mission in Mexico with three passengers when he ran into trouble over Interstate 80 near Reno, Nevada.
Mr Durousseau, who works as a fire chief in the city, said: 'I went to switch fuel tanks and it said there was 7.5 gallons left.
Emergency landing: Joe DuRoussseau by his Cessna 172, which he brought down on Interstate 80 in Reno after engine problems
Tight squeeze: Joseph DuRoussseau flew the aircraft beneath the Vista Boulevard bridge and on to the highway
'Then the engine wouldn't start and we had to land on the freeway. Traffic was light, and I picked a spot between traffic.'
Durousseau, 60 and a veteran pilot, flew his Cessna 172 four-seat aircraft beneath the Vista Boulevard bridge, hovered above the freeway and found an opening between westbound vehicles.
No big deal: Veteran pilot Joe DuRoussseau
The Cessna 172 rolled about 100 feet and stopped near the Sparks Boulevard overpass.
The landing caused no injuries or accidents, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen said.
Durousseau said he was trying to switch from one fuel tank to another when the engine went out and would not restart.
He was upset only because his tail wheel broke and a wing tip and rudder were damaged.
Durousseau had flown the group from Dyer in Southern Nevada but was prevented from landing in Reno by fog.
He headed for a nearby airport at Fernley but was called back to Reno-Tahoe International Airport as the weather cleared.
Officials estimated he had enough fuel to support 40 minutes of flying from the tank he was using, when he tried to switch to the reserve supply.
Durousseau was calm when interviewed by police and news media, as passengers Joan and Aimee Abittan and Tamara Anderson, recovered their luggage.
'It was totally fine,' Anderson said. 'It was just an emergency landing that happened like it should have.
'It was unusual for sure. I've never done that before.'
The aircraft remained beside the Sparks Boulevard overpass for several hours, with one westbound lane open.
A crew was scheduled to move the plane on a trailer to Stead Airport, Allen said.
Officials for the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were at the scene.
The FAA registry shows Durousseau owns the airplane built in 1957.
'I just saw an opening in the traffic and slowed down,' Durousseau told KRNV-TV in Reno.
He said the cars behind him slowed and those ahead sped up.>Enlarge
Where Mr Durousseau put the plane down: Interstate 81 is one of the busiest roads in Nevada, just outside the bustling city of Reno
'It created a nice spot to come in,' he said. 'Everyone did a nice job.'
Durousseau said his passengers had been at a dental clinic as part of the volunteer Flying Doctors programme, a California-based nonprofit organisation that provides health care and education in rural villages throughout Mexico and Central America.
The group uses volunteer pilots to transport teams of medical professionals and volunteers on monthly trips to rural medical, dental and optometry clinics.
A pilot for 30 years, Durousseau has flown for the agency for four years and said his passengers were returning from a dental clinic.
Anderson is a trip coordinator for the organisation's Truckee chapter.
In 2006, Durousseau led the fire department's Urban Search and Rescue Team when it went through the Mizpah Hotel after a Halloween night arson that killed 12. He also headed water entry and trench rescue teams for the department and is a volunteer with the sheriff's office's Search and Rescue team, officials said.
'Nice job': No one was hurt in the incident which saw DuRoussseau land his plane amid morning traffic
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