Fifty-one-year old John Pederson credits the sequencing of lights on Lake Shore Drive for allowing him to land safely. His early morning flight began in Schaumburg.
"Well, I'm alive," laughed John Pederson.
Pederson took his small two-seater plane for a sunrise ride over downtown Chicago Sunday morning. As he flew over Willis Tower, the Lombard resident says his plane began to violently shake.
"When the aircraft is shaking like that it can fall apart in midair, so I called O'Hare tower, I did a mayday call," he said.
The call came in at 5:45 a.m.
Pederson: "O'Hare tower, this is a mayday. We are going down on Lake Shore Drive. This is a mayday."
Tower: "Is that you east of the tower right now?"
Pederson: "Yes sir."
Yes, Pederson said he was going to land it on Lake Shore Drive and seconds later that is exactly what he did.
"The way the stop lights are sequenced, they all turn red and green between these sequences and it was like having a runway to myself," he said.
Pederson managed a smooth landing on the LSD runway, which was comforting news for Ray Dell, who noticed from his hi-rise balcony that the single-engine plane was wobbling.
"It looked like it was in trouble," Dell said. "I was actually kind of worried because I live at State and Wabash, and it was coming my way."
After the plane landed, Pederson says two cars on Lake Shore Drive clipped the aircrafts left wing and kept going.
Despite that, Pederson walked out unscathed, which brought a message from his daughter to the ABC-7 Facebook page. She wrote, "Thank goodness my dad's ok, worst news to get woken up to."
It took a few firefighters to push the plane off the drive and onto the grass, where Pederson waited for a tow and offered some advice to other pilots.
"Pray before you fly," he suggested.
Pederson said he can't wait get back in the air again.
He has been a pilot for the past five years and Sunday morning before taking off, he said that he did a thorough flight check. He believes a wire on a part called the elevator broke off and that's what caused the trouble.
Monday, the FAA will take a look at his plane, which is back at the hanger in Schaumburg.