Novato pilot avoids injury in Santa Rosa-area plane crash
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
A Novato pilot avoided injury Saturday when the single-engine private plane he was flying made an emergency crash landing in a Santa Rosa-area vineyard.
The World War II-era biplane — with two wings on each side — reportedly lost power, forcing the pilot, Patrick Bell, to put it down in a vineyard in the 6500 block of Jamison Road, south of Bennett Peak.
The crash was reported about 10:26 a.m. and spurred a response from fire, law enforcement and aviation officials.
The plane cut a 40-yard track through the 52-acre vineyard and took out several rows of grapes before it flipped over and came to rest on its top wings, Bennett Valley Fire Officer Rene Torres said.
Bell, 67, was able to free himself from the open-air cockpit and did not require medical treatment, Torres said. He did not have any passengers.
Bell told authorities he had taken off earlier in the day from the Petaluma airport. He said he lost power at about 2,000 feet and had to make a decision where to land. The vineyard where he crashed is leased by Kendall Jackson, according to a neighbor.
The plane had a minor fuel leak that firefighters were able to contain. Bell told authorities that the plane was repairable. But due to its location in the middle of the vineyard it may have to be dismantled or airlifted, Torres said.
(You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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