Sat, Apr 27, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Pilot crash-lands aircraft on top of giant white fir

AP, MCCALL, Idaho

A small airplane rests on top of a white fir near McCall, Idaho, in a undated photograph.

Photo: AP / Valley County Sheriff’s Office

A pilot who was trying to crash-land in an Idaho field earlier this week instead brought his small airplane to rest at the top of an 18m tree, officials said.

Pilot John Gregory was not hurt in the Monday night crash, which happened when his single-engine Piper Cub PA-18 lost power and a wing strut became entangled in the tree, the McCall Fire Department said.

Gregory was rescued from his perch atop the giant white fir by volunteer firefighter Randy Acker, who owns a tree removal company.

“My thought was: ‘I need to get up there and see what’s going on,’” Acker said.

Acker had Gregory stand up in the airplane so he could cut the pilot’s harness and clip him to a safety line for the descent. Gregory was brought down safely with the airplane still lodged in the branches.

Most of the weight of the airplane was borne by one tree, but it was also touching a nearby tree.

“Those wings were perfectly centered over the top of the tree,” McCall Fire Captain Brandon Swain said.

A piece of the airplane’s propeller and one of its wheels had fallen to the ground, but the rest of the aircraft was intact, suspended in the tree.

Acker cut branches as he scaled the tree until he was about 6m from the top, where higher branches were supporting the airplane.

Acker then secured the airplane to the tree using rope webbing before Gregory was rescued, Swain said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this happen,” Acker said. “Just glad I was able to help.”

Officials are trying to determine how to remove the airplane from its perch and warned people to stay away from it.

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