A calm cockpit and a break in the vehicle traffic allowed Michell Siguencia and her flight instructor to somehow to make an emergency landing on Highway 17 Friday evening.

“The engine starts running a little bit rough. Then Pedro said something’s not right. So he took control,” said Siguencia, a flight student who had just received her private pilot licence a month ago. “We tried to pull more power, but it was not answering. That’s how we figured it out and the plane just quit.”

The trouble started in the airspace between the Pattullo and Alex Fraser bridges, according to Peter Schlieck, president of Canadian Flight Centre owners of the aircraft.

“You are only 1,000 feet high, you maybe have a couple of minutes and you are on the ground so, they had to make a quick decision,” said Schlieck, describing the instructor’s quick actions to find a suitable landing site.

Siguencia added, “We just started looking for places, but the fields were crowded, and the highway was pretty much empty for us to land.”

The instructor manoeuvred the plane into a path to land on the highway.

Schlieck described the difficulty landing this aircraft without an engine.

“The trick is they have to be a little bit faster than the truck behind you and a little bit slower than the car ahead of you. That may sound easy, but if you don’t have an engine running, that was a very good accomplishment," he said. "It was a perfect landing.”

A missing fuel cap was found to be the cause of the Cessna 152’s engine failure.

Schlieck went on to explain how the loss of the fuel cap on the top side of the wing caused a siphon effect to the fuel tank, starving the engine of its lifeblood. He said that the flight school is examining the procedures in an effort to prevent this from happening again.

The student credits the success of the landing to the training that she and her instructor had been just practicing earlier in the flight.

“I learned that practice and practice gives you a lot of knowledge, but when you actually have to do it, it's something totally different," Siguencia said, "and I think more than that. I had the best instructor that I could ever have."