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Plane that landed on New Tampa highway was doing mosquito control for county

Ruben Fernandez, 34, was driving south on Bruce B. Downs when he saw the plane flying low, headed straight toward him. “I thought I was going to die.”
The pilot of a plane doing mosquito control work for Hillsborough County made an emergency landing Thursday morning on the grass median of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
The pilot of a plane doing mosquito control work for Hillsborough County made an emergency landing Thursday morning on the grass median of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Nov. 4, 2021|Updated Nov. 4, 2021

TAMPA — The pilot of a single-engine airplane safely made an emergency landing Thursday morning on a grass median along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

Tampa police said the plane may have had engine trouble before landing near the Interstate 75 entrance ramp at Bruce B. Downs in New Tampa. The plane had taken off around 10:30 a.m. from the Tampa Executive Airport and had to land shortly afterward, said Tampa Fire Rescue spokesperson Vivian McIlrath.

The plane was contracted by Hillsborough County for mosquito control work, McIlrath said. The pilot was the only person on board and he was not injured.

A plane landed in the median Thursday along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard near the Interstate 75 entrance ramp.
A plane landed in the median Thursday along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard near the Interstate 75 entrance ramp. [ FDOT ]

McIlrath and police referred other questions to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ruben Fernandez, 34, was driving south on Bruce B. Downs when he saw the plane flying low, headed straight toward him before it turned slightly to land on the median.

“I thought I was going to die,” Fernandez said.

Traffic cameras trained on the site showed a white plane with blue trim on the east side of the median, facing north. There were no skid marks or signs of damage on the roadway or the grass.

The plane, a single-engine Cessna T188C manufactured for agricultural use, is owned by a trust in Delaware, according to FAA records.

Staff photographer Martha Ascencio-Rhine contributed to this report.

Ruben Fernandez, 34, witnessed the emergency landing of a single-engine plane along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
Ruben Fernandez, 34, witnessed the emergency landing of a single-engine plane along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
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