FAA investigates after plane lands between cars on U.S. 321

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GRANITE FALLS, N.C. - A plane landed between two cars on U.S. 321, surprising two drivers near Granite Falls late Monday.

The pilot, Eric Klein, told Eyewitness News he ran out of fuel and the northbound lanes of the highway were his best option for a safe landing.

The small plane touched down between two moving cars on the highway near the Walmart just before 11 p.m.

No one was hurt, but the drivers of the cars were shocked by the turn of events.

IMAGES: Plane lands on Highway 321

“Could you see him in the rearview mirror?” asked reporter Dave Faherty.

“Absolutely, right behind me!” said driver Joe Greene.

Greene said he was confused at first.

"I just didn't know what it was. I still couldn't tell. I could see these lights flashing and he was right up on my bumper,” he said. “Then I began to pull away, so I turned, went back and realized it was a plane that had landed right behind me!"

Gerald Cole said his wife was the first to notice something strange was going on.

"She spotted it first and she starting yelling 'What is that? What is that?' And as soon as I caught good sight of it, I could tell it was an airplane," he said.

"I just kind of got on my brakes and let him go ahead of me because he came in right over the top of my car,” Cole said. "And I let him go ahead. He was weaving back and forth somewhat, but he finally put it down right in the middle of the road."

RAW INTERVIEWS: Drivers, pilot talk about plane landing on U.S. 321

Klein said he was flying home from a trip to West Virginia and planned to land at the Hickory Regional Airport when he realized he was out of fuel. He said he expected the plane to have about three hours of fuel in it, but he ran into problems after just two hours.

“I was already too low coming in for a landing and wasn’t going to make the airport,” he said.

"I used the cars to kind of direct me in the direction of the highway -- the lights from the cars,” Klein said. "And I was able to land on 321 successfully without striking anything or injuring anybody else."

Cole said the pilot was fortunate.

"I think he was very lucky.  Like I said, he was right in front of me, but he was right behind this fella, and kind of landed between us," he said.

The plane was towed from the highway to the Hickory Regional Airport at about 3 a.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to investigate. An FAA representative said inspectors will interview the pilot, inspect the aircraft, examine maintenance records and look at any documents related to fueling the aircraft.

The investigation will likely take a few weeks.

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