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Award-winning pilot, 52, pulls off 'textbook emergency landing' on a busy Minnesota interstate

An award-winning pilot made a 'textbook emergency landing' on a Minnesota interstate Wednesday, only hitting a vehicle once it landed on the busy highway.  

The single-engine Bellanca Viking plane landed and hit a vehicle, temporarily closing part of the highway Wednesday night in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills, officials said. 

Footage from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) shows the moment 52-year-old Craig Gifford miraculously landed the plane on 35W.

'While this isn't *quite* what we mean by a "multimodal transportation system," we're glad no one was injured and are impressed by the pilot's effort to zipper merge from above,' the MnDOT said in a Facebook post.

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The single-engine Bellanca Viking plane landed and hit a vehicle, temporarily closing part of the 35W highway Wednesday night in Arden Hills, Minnesota

Two people were on board, KMSP-TV reported, and authorities said no injuries were reported.

Gifford, a Minneapolis resident, is a competitive aerobatic pilot - a sport that involves flying aircraft in a series of maneuvers. 

Experimental Aircraft Association spokesman Dick Knapinski said Gifford represented the United States in international competition in 2017 and 2019 on the Unlimited Aerobatic Team, which took home the bronze medal at the world championships in South Africa in 2017.

Footage shows the moment Craig Gifford made the miraculous landing in the St. Paul suburb

The landing was described as a 'textbook emergency landing' by Experimental Aircraft Association spokesman Dick Knapinski

Knapinski said pilots take aerobatic training lessons to learn how to better maneuver aircraft in emergency situations, which he said explains how Gifford´s skills helped him pull off the 'textbook emergency landing' on the interstate Wednesday night.

'Pilots are trained to deal with emergency engine problems and things like that if you have to make an emergency landing, and so the combination of that training and certainly (Gifford´s) aerobatic training really paid off in this situation,' he said.

Gifford declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation into the incident by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation and Safety Board.

Two people were on board and authorities said no injuries were reported

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