If you thought Los Angeles traffic was bad now, buckle up. In a world rife with markedly strange events, there’s usually a good explanation that comes with circumstances that are a smidge out of the ordinary. Given the reach of social media, we have the age-old propensity to spin our own humorous embellishments that make the internet, storytelling, and current events our own brand of 21st-century myth. But, as they say, myth usually has some particle of truth.
Tell that to the World War II Nazi fighter plane that crashed in California. Neo-Nazi extremists? Luftwaffe flies through a wormhole, piercing space and time? Well, crash landing in a ball of flame in the middle of U.S. 101 in Los Angeles gave eye-witnesses plenty of time for social-media-fueled conjecture.
On average, Americans drive 29.2 miles everday, back and forth, with an average trip duration of about 46 minutes. In Los Angeles, the traffic is so congested that they’re going a third of the distance and it takes a lot longer. One sunny day, to the surprise of those used to the monotony of Los Angeles traffic, a plane crash-landed on an open part of the highway.
Bearing camouflage and emblems of the Nazi fighter planes from World War II, people were like, “What is happening right now?”
Naturally, they took to social media with something — finally — interesting to happen in L.A. traffic. People were making jokes about wormholes, glitches in the Matrix, the beginning of Encouters of the Third Kind, Doctor Who, and a bunch of socio-political commentaries. With a Nazi plane crashing and burning on a California highway, a favored tweet said:
“What, pray tell, the [expletive] am I supposed to make of this late-season symbolism?”
It turns out there was a very reasonable explanation for this odd event. As of 2011, there were more than 11,200 private jets registered in the United States. A lot of them are luxury aircraft for the international jet-setting needs of the business elite. Others, like our Nazi fighter, are registered to private companies like Condor Squadron. They’re a non-profit that dolls up WWII themed planes and flies mock dogfights over parades and the like. That day, on a routine run, the plane had a pretty big malfunction. So, it touched down wherever it could.
“I picked a spot on the freeway where I knew there was a big section of cars that weren’t there. The engine completely failed. I was able to, fortunately, not hurt anybody other than the airplane,” said pilot Rob Sandberg.
The pilot was also safe after escaping the burning wreckage and it’ll live on in infamy, another event made famous by quick-handed Twitter users stuck in traffic.