Idaho Pilot Rescued After Crash-landing on Top of a 60-foot Fir Tree
The pilot was trying to land his small plane in a field.
At around 9 p.m. on Monday, pilot John Gregory attempted to crash-land his single-engine plane in an Idaho field, according to several reports — but a rather large tree got in the way.
So Gregory landed his Piper Cub PA-18 atop the crown of the giant white fir, 60 feet above the ground, after the plane lost power and a strut wing caught part of the tree, according to the McCall Fire Department, reports the Associated Press.
Gregory called 911 to say his plane crashed and it was “hung up in trees,” reports television station KIVI of Boise. Coming to his rescue was volunteer firefighter Randy Acker, owner of a tree-removal company.
“My thought was,” Acker told the AP, “I need to get up there and see what’s going on.”
As he does at his paying job, Acker cut branches on his way up the tree until he was about 20 feet from the top.
He then secured the plane to the tree with rope webbing, and secured Gregory in a safety line before the pilot was safely belayed back to the ground, according to KIVI.
“I’ve never seen anything like this happen,” Acker told the AP. “Just glad I was able to help.”
The lone tree supported most of the plane’s weight. “Those wings were perfectly centered over the top of the tree,” McCall Fire Capt. Brandon Swain told the AP.
And most of it was intact, with just a piece of the propeller and a wheel falling to the ground.
As of Thursday afternoon, the plane remained in the tree while officials tried to figure out a way to get it safely down, according to the AP.