A light aircraft, apparently out of fuel, made an emergency landing on Highway 101 near Gaviota Friday afternoon, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
The single-engine plane, a Cessna 172, landed on the southbound highway about a mile south of Mariposa Reina, firefighter Paul Christensen said.
After touching down, it taxied to the side of the roadway.
"The plane landed on the freeway, it did not crash," Christensen said.
Only the pilot was on board, and he was uninjured in the incident, which occurred at about 4:30 p.m., fire officials said.
About two hours later, after the aircraft was refueled, the freeway was shut down briefly, allowing the plane to takeoff from the highway and be flown back to the Santa Barbara Airport.
The 25-year-old student pilot from Michigan reportedly was returning to Santa Barbara on a training flight after stops in Paso Robles and Santa Maria.
The aircraft apparently was trying to make it to the Santa Barbara Airport when the engine cut out at about 5,000 feet over the Gaviota Pass, and it was forced to land.
The slow lane in the area was blocked off while officials worked to secure the aircraft, Christensen said, and motorists in the area were urged to use caution.
A non-injury vehicle accident occurred in the northbound lanes shortly after the plane touched down, presumably involving a driver distracted by the aircraft landing on the highway.