Craig Carlson navigated his wounded aircraft and made an emergency landing on the I-70 median at the 33-mile marker in Putnam County a little after 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Indiana State Police reported the 49-year-old Washington State resident was flying from Columbus, Ohio, to Tulsa, Okla., and planned to stop at the Terre Haute International Airport Hulman Field.
Hulman Airport Director Dennis Dunbar spoke for Carlson, who declined to meet with reporters.
"The pilot speculated he experienced some kind of mechanical problem that stopped fuel to the engine," Dunbar said.
Carlson, a retired California Highway Patrolman, carefully maneuvered the ailing, single engine, highwing 1946 Stinson Taildragger plane. He landed it safely and nestled the 26-foot wingspan aircraft between the east and west bound lanes without obstructing traffic in either direction. There were no reported injuries.
Carlson had a friend flying in another plane at the time. The unidentified friend went on to Terre Haute and landed his plane then caught a ride back to the scene to help his buddy.
Carlson's plane was secured on a flatbed truck and transported to Hulman Field about 5 p.m. Dunbar said an aircraft mechanic would inspect the plane to determine the problem. They'd fix it then send Carlson on his way.
"He did a good job of landing it," Dunbar said. "When you're in a situation like that, your training kicks in and his surely did."
Since Carlson refused to talk to the media, Dunbar was asked if perhaps the pilot was a little shaken up emotionally after the crisis was over.
"He seemed pretty calm to me for someone who'd just landed a plane on the highway," Dunbar said.