Landing a plane on a Maine highway may be a rare event, but for Roger Wolverton the details of Friday’s forced landing on Interstate 95 in Litchfield sounded a familiar refrain.

More than 20 years ago, Wolverton landed his plane on I-95 in northern Maine when the engine quit on his Cessna Caravan Turboprop at 9,000 feet.

“It was the day before Thanksgiving,” Wolverton recalled Friday.

Now a pilot for Owls Head-based Penobscot Island Air, Wolverton was a 42-year-old Maine Warden Service pilot in November 1990. He was flying alone and his cargo was UPS freight to be taken to Presque Isle for Waterville-based Telford Aviation, for whom he worked part time.

The emergency occurred about five miles north of Medway in Penobscot County.

“I had engine failure,” Wolverton said. “I turned it into a glider.”

Wolverton, who was flying in the clouds, broke out of the cloud cover and recognized his position. He could see Millinocket Airport, but he said he didn’t think he could glide that far.

He landed on the interstate’s southbound lanes, facing north.

“There was only one vehicle out there,” Wolverton said. “That’s why I chose the interstate instead of the trees.”

No one was injured and there was no damage to the plane.

“I rolled into a crossover,” he said.

Wolverton told the Bangor Daily News at the time that the engine failure’s cause was undetermined. He said the plane’s engine would be fixed or replaced and the plane would be flown off the interstate.

Wolverton, though unfamiliar with all the details of Friday’s emergency landing in Litchfield, said warden service pilot Dan Dufault did the right thing by landing on the highway with little traffic in sight.

“The guys that fly for the Warden Service, they’re about as good as it gets,” Wolverton said. “Fortunately, everyone’s OK.”

An informal survey Friday turned up just one other case of plane landing on the interstate, about 30 years ago in Gray.

Wolverton said such landings are not uncommon, even on busier highways, in other parts of the country.

Even so, when it happens, it leaves an impression.

“I have had two or three incidents over the years,” Wolverton said, “but that was probably the most memorable.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
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