A skydiving plane carrying more than a dozen people crashed near Lodi, but only the pilot of the plane that landed upside down was injured. The Federal Aviation Administration is saying just minutes after takeoff, the pilot had engine problems, turning what was supposed to be a thrilling skydiving adventure turned into a very different wild ride.
“It was loud, and like any other crash a lot of commotion,” said Kevin Conklin. “Heard the crash and looked behind me and over the top of the grapevine. Was a plane cartwheeling within 200 feet of me.”
He was at work welding when he looked up to see what was happening.
“We ran over there but the sky divers were on their feet getting each other out,” he said. “Pilot was the last one out, but he was a little bloodied, but everyone made it; pretty amazing.”
The single-engine Cessna 208 took off from Lodi Municipal Airport with 17 excited thrill seekers on board and one pilot. That pilot tried to return to the airport, but couldn’t make it. As he started to drop, the plane actually clipped the truck Cindy Martin and her husband were driving in.
“I saw a plane heading right for us. And I told my husband that planes gonna hit us,” she said. “It clipped the back end of our vehicle and then went across and flipped out in the vineyard.”
Passengers were visibly shaken, but walked off unscatherd.
Parachute center owner Bill Dause says he doesn’t know what went wrong and that his plane was well-maintained and in the sport for quite some time.
“Everyone’s fine, so I’m pleased with that, it could have been quite the tragedy,” he said. “We have no idea why it stopped running, look into quite a new airplane,a lot of upgrades on it.”
What’s even more amazing is that half of the passengers went back up in the air within 15 to 20 minutes of getting back.