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Two walk away from crash, plane destroyed

Pilot John Fehrman, pictured, and his passenger, Isaac Preston, escaped serious injury when Fehrman’s plane made an emergency landing in a rugged and remote area northwest of Antelope Lake. The 1946 Euro Coupe was completely destroyed in the crash. Photo by Isaac Preston

Mike Taborski
Two Plumas County men escaped serious injury when the plane they were flying went down in rugged terrain early Sunday afternoon, July 27.

Quincy business owner and pilot John Fehrman said his 1946 Euro Coupe 415C, based in Quincy, didn’t respond as he applied power to climb and clear a ridge. He said he was left with no choice other than making an emergency landing in a thicket of pine trees.

Fehrman, 62, a seasoned pilot who has logged more than 7,000 hours of civilian flight time, departed the Chester airport at approximately 10:20 a.m. with passenger Isaac Preston.

The scenic flight around the Lake Almanor, Indian Valley and Lassen Peak areas was scheduled to take about an hour. It was a 40th birthday present for Preston, a Chester resident.

The two-seat light sports plane went down about 11 a.m., approximately 10 miles northwest of Antelope Lake on the fringe of the terrain burned by the Moonlight Fire.

Unable to get cellphone reception at the scene of the accident, the two decided to begin walking down the mountain. They followed a logging road in hopes of finding a spot with cellphone reception so they could make contact with family members, whom they both knew by then would be very worried.

After hiking several miles, the two crash survivors spotted a couple of miners in the distance near a pickup truck. Fehrman said they reached the two men and told them what had happened. The miners responded by saying they thought they were having a bad day when their pickup truck had broken down, leaving them stranded as well. Fortunately, there was plenty of food and water in the truck for all.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. the men finally reached the Baker residence at the bottom of Diamond Mountain Road, where they were able to get help. Fehrman and Preston were treated at the scene for minor cuts and scratches.

Preston and his fiancée, longtime Chester resident Stephanie Stelzriede, who was at the airport when the two departed, will be married Aug. 23.

The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Aviation Administration and the Civil Air Patrol were notified of the missing aircraft at approximately 2 p.m. and immediately began coordinating their search efforts.

The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA, which are expected to release their findings at a later date.

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