BLUE CANYON -- By the looks of the wreckage, you might fear for the condition of the pilot strapped inside a Grob 109 when it plunged nose-first into the pines of Blue Canyon. But amazingly, there's no terrible story to tell.
"He suffered only some minor injuries," said CHP Sergeant David Brown. "He's very fortunate."
The very fortunate pilot once at the controls? Richard Pearl of Lincoln.
Also fortunate, those driving along Interstate 80 on either side of the wooded median where the 74-year-old Pearl's plane came down. With a 56-foot wing span, parts of his Grob came less than 50 feet away from east and westbound lanes of highway traffic.
Investigators say Pearl, who didn't want to speak to FOX40 about the accident, got into trouble shortly after leaving the airport in Lincoln with plans to land Minden, Nevada.
"The pilot, as he was flying his plane, developed some issues being able to gain altitude," Brown said. "[He] realized he was having issues and decided to—attempted to land at the Blue Canyon airport."
That attempt ended up upside down about 25 feet in the air with Pearl still in the cockpit as rescuers rushed in.
"CalFire personnel eventually rigged up some ladders and were eventually able to remove the pilot from the plane," Brown said. "He was able to walk out from the plane on his own to the ambulance where he was checked out."
It was the best possible end to the worst kind of flight maneuver.
Caltrans will work with an aircraft recovery company to remove the wreckage from the highway median early next week.