Auburn, CA. – On March 18, 2018 at approximately 8:30 am, H-20 responded to a reported call of an airplane on fire and going down in Yuba County. The plane had gone down in the Goldfields area and ultimately crash landed in the Yuba River. H-20 arrived on scene and located a Yellow Piper Cub Airplane with the pilot sitting on top of the aircraft waving at the helicopter as H-20 flew overhead. The crew of H-20 observed that the airplane was partially submerged in the Yuba River. H-20 was able to land adjacent to the crash site in the river bed.
Flight Officer Hallam, waded through the water in order to make contact with the pilot. Due to the pilot’s injuries, he was unable to walk so Officer Hallam carried the injured pilot on his back to H-20. The pilot suffered injuries consistent with an airplane accident and inflight cabin fire. Due to the remote area of the crash landing, H-20 flew the pilot to an awaiting ground ambulance where he was transported to UC Davis Hospital for medical care.
It was later revealed that the pilot had struck power lines which caused an inflight fire causing the pilot to force land the aircraft into the Yuba River. This unfortunate event could have been prevented if the pilot had been flying at a safe altitude. Although flying low in canyons can be fun and exciting, cables and wires are very difficult to see and the canyons leave you little room to maneuver.