Plane, Copter Clip Each Other Over CA, Pilots Hurt

Published February 20, 2012 9:45AM (EST)

ANTIOCH, Calif. (AP) — A helicopter and a small plane were forced into emergency landings after they clipped each other over Northern California, leaving the two pilots with minor injuries, authorities say.

The accident occurred about 7 p.m. Sunday just north of Antioch, about halfway between Oakland and Sacramento along the Sacramento River, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The two-seat Robinson R22 helicopter set down just off state Highway 160, while the six-seat Beechcraft Bonanza made a rough landing in a field just short of an airport, the officials said.

There was no immediate information on what caused the accident, details of the midair collision, or damage to the two aircraft.

The male pilot of the single-engine plane and the 29-year-old female helicopter pilot were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, Sacramento County sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos said. The woman had cuts to her hands, he said.

The helicopter pilot was the only person aboard, while two people were aboard the plane, Gregor said. There were no reports of any injuries to the plane passenger.

The helicopter pilot came down about 50 feet from the highway, turned off her fuel tank and walked to the road to get help from drivers, Sacramento County and California Highway Patrol officials at the scene told Sacramento's KXTV-TV.

The plane had taken off and intended to land at an airport in the town of Byron, some 20 miles to the south, but went down shortly before reaching it. The small, two-runway airport in Byron does not have an air traffic control tower.

It was not clear where the helicopter took off, or where it was headed.

The crash was about eight miles from Rio Vista Municipal Airport, but its coordinator John Andoh said neither aircraft had any connection to the airport.

Both aircraft had private owners, according to FAA records.

The 2005 Robinson helicopter is registered to a Hayward-based business owned by Matthew Spitzer and was leased to Vertical CFI, a pilot training school, Spitzer's wife, Rosemary, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. A Vertical CFI official didn't immediately respond to a phone message.

The 1961 Beechcraft plane is registered to Ronald A. Gawer of Brentwood, Calif. in Contra Costa County, the records show.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

By Salon Staff

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