The pilot of a small plane put the aircraft down on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive on Sunday morning after the plane had mechanical issues.
Pilot John Pedersen said he was out enjoying a leisurely sunrise flight along the lakefront when he heard a noise and immediately struggled to maintain control of the experimental 2000 Coyote aircraft.
Ratting can be heard in the pilot's radio transmissions to air traffic control.
"I was over Willis Tower and all of a sudden boom, the plane was shaking vigorously," Pedersen later recalled, adding that one of his first thoughts was, "This is it."
But Lake Shore Drive, one of Chicago's main north-bound and south-bound thoroughfares, wound up making a pretty good runway.
"The way the stop lights are sequenced, they all turn red, they all turn green so I was in between those sequences. I had the whole road, it was like having a runway to myself," Pederson, 51, said after putting the plane down in the northbound lanes near Buckingham Fountain.
Pedersen, who is from the Chicago suburb of Lombard, said two cars hit the plane's left wing after he landed near Grant Park, but drove off. The plane was later pushed off the roadway into a grassy area, allowing the roadway reopened to traffic within a few hours.
No injuries were reported, but an official on the scene said the situation very easily could have been worse.
"This could have been fatal," said Chicago Police Sgt. Craig Roberts.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said Pederson was the only person aboard the aircraft and said an investigation into the landing would take several weeks. She said the plane's point of departure and intended destination were still being determined.
FAA records show the plane, a RANS S-6 Coyote II, was built in 2003. Pederson said he's been a pilot for five years.