Update: Plane that Forced Evacuation of Shopping Center Lands Safely

August 18, 2008

(AP) A plane that had made an unauthorized takeoff and circled for several hours has landed without incident at Roanoke Regional Airport.

Authorities asked business owners to evacuate a strip shopping center near Smith Mountain Lake on Monday as the Cessna 172 circled the area.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the plane landed safely shortly after 2:30 p.m. It had taken off about 11 a.m., according to Franklin County Administrator Rick Huff.

Huff said law enforcement officials mobilized in the area and were in contact with the pilot.

Huff said some of the 25 or so business owners at Bridgewater Plaza strip shopping center left as a precaution.

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