Student Pilot mistakes Tauranga highway for landing strip

Wellington (dpa) – A student pilot came close to landing on a busy state highway in New Zealand’s North Island on March 22, when he mistook the road for an airport runway, authorities said.

Police said the light plane flew as low as three metres to the ground on a busy section of the state highway near the city of Tauranga, before the pilot realised the road was not in fact the airport runway and pulled out of the landing.

The pilot, a student at CTC Aviation Training school, landed safely at Tauranga Airport soon after the incident.

Acting Senior Sergeant Steve Hindmarsh at the Tauranga Police Station said the plane was flying low enough to cause concern, and police had checked with airport staff to make sure it was not in difficulty.

CTC was interviewing the pilot to find out what went wrong.