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Pilot makes quick fix after landing on highway near Litchfield

LITCHFIELD, Minn. -- A Canadian pilot safely landed his Cessna 172 on a State Highway 24 in Meeker County on Tuesday evening, then fixed an engine problem and flew on his way.

According to a news release from Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin, a 911 call reported that an airplane had landed on the highway around 5:30 p.m. northeast of Litchfield.

The pilot, Donald Rennie, 59, of Alberta, Canada, told the officers that he and his two passengers, Ernest Novakowski, 66, and Gerald Richard, 74, also from Alberta, had left the Rochester, Minn., airport and were heading to the Alexandria, Minn., airport when the engine of the airplane started to backfire and lose power. Rennie said he didn't think that it was safe to fly over the town of Litchfield to attempt to make it to the Litchfield Airport.

Instead, Rennie decided to land the airplane on the road. Once on the ground, the men discovered that the fuel in the airplane had water in it and corrected the problem.

After the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted, it was determined that the airplane was cleared to take off from the roadway. Deputies and the Minnesota State Patrol blocked the roadway as the airplane took off.

No injuries or damages were reported.