Earlier today, a small plane—carrying a flight instructor and a student pilot—crashed at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall parking lot in NJ. The Record reports that plane "[crushed] its nose gear... bringing it within 100 yards of JC Penney. The plane departed from Essex County airport and shortly after takeoff the pilot reported a rough running engine. He then tried to put the plane down in the mall parking lot, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said."

The plane, a single-engine Cessna 172, apparently hit some trees before landing. One shopper said, "We thought it was too low. We watched it circle; then it crashed into the ground, and we were in shock." No one was injured, but the man and and woman aboard the plane were taken to a hospital as a precaution.

This is apparently the second time the mall's parking lot has been used as a landing area—it happened before in 1996 when another plane's fuel ran out. Last week, a small plane crashed near Teterboro Airport and, almost three weeks ago, a small plane crashed with a helicopter over the Hudson River.