Jamal Hammoud woke up about 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday to get a drink of water when he saw the flashing lights of fire trucks outside his window.
At first he thought there was trouble with the light-rail train that runs along the busy boulevard right by his northeast Calgary home.
But when he went out to see what was going on, he was surprised to see a plane, intact aside from a damaged wing, parked on 36th Street N.E.
“It’s something that you see in movies, not in real life,” he said.
Police say the twin-engine plane was coming in from the south, heading for a landing at the Calgary airport, when a pilot radioed in that the aircraft was low on fuel.
Sgt. Duane Lepchuk said the aircraft came down on a two-lane stretch of road about five kilometres south of the airport and not far from the Trans-Canada Highway.
There were no injuries among the four passengers and two crew members on the Piper Navajo.
Lepchuk said there was minimal traffic on the street at the time and no reports of drivers having to swerve to miss the plane.
Hammoud said he woke up his wife.
“I joked with her saying, ‘Get up, I got you an airplane. We’re going for a vacation.“’ When she looked at him quizzically and asked what he was talking about, he told her to look out their bedroom window.
Then, he woke up his sons, who are 10 and six.
“I said, ‘Hurry up kids. I’m flying you guys to school today.“’ Hammoud said security footage from his home captured the plane passing right over a car.
By early afternoon, the plane was still there and the scene was abuzz with investigators and passersby snapping photos, he said.
Jason Hollyoak told CTV Calgary that he saw the plane make an incredible landing.
“I would say he was just trying to keep it underneath all the light poles and street lights and everything. He had to have flown over probably two or three cars,” Hollyoak said.
Super T Aviation of Medicine Hat, Alta., said in a statement that the plane was forced to land “due to a loss of power of unknown cause.”
Super T’s owner, Terri Super, was heading to Calgary to help the Transportation Safety Board with its investigation.
“Ms. Super acknowledges the actions of the pilots to ensure a safe landing and is grateful that there were no injuries to those on board or on the ground,” said the statement.
Merle Johnson, CEO of Calgary-based Connacher Oil and Gas Limited, said the four passengers are his employees who were heading to the Fort McMurray area to work.
He said following the emergency landing he decided to send them home to Medicine Hat.
“They will not be returning to work this week,” Johnson said. “Our main focus is on their safety and we are very grateful that there were no physical injuries sustained to the passengers or the crew.”
Marge Wawryn, who lives five houses in from 36th Street, said she did not expect her neighbourhood to be filled with fire trucks and news vans first thing in the morning.
She said the plane’s wing seems to have clipped a pole and that she’s glad more serious damage wasn’t done.
“Heavenly days. That plane could just have easily landed on top of our house and we wouldn’t have a roof left.”
– With file from CHAT in Medicine Hat