A pair of California aviators narrowly escaped death earlier this week, after a mid-air collision between a Robinson R22 helicopter and a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza plane brought both aircraft to the ground. The accident occurred outside of Anitoch, which is located about halfway between Oakland and Sacramento.
The helicopter was piloted by a flight school student who was earning nighttime hours toward her helicopter pilot's license. According to reports, she was flying at around 7 in the evening when she noticed a single-engine plane flying behind her.
Soon thereafter, the plane struck the helicopter's skids, causing the helicopter to fall towards the ground.
The helicopter pilot, who is also an experienced commercial airplane pilot, was able to get control of her aircraft and land it safely on the side of a highway. She was able to use her knowledge and training to take the steps necessary to shut off fuel and prevent the helicopter from catching fire.
The pilot of the single-engine plane made a rough landing in a field near the local airport.
Both pilots suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital. According to witnesses, though, they should be considering themselves lucky - had the plane been just a few feet higher, and had the helicopter pilot not been so well trained, both pilots would likely have been killed.
At this point, the exact cause of the aviation accident is still unclear. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
Source: Fox News, "California Crash Could've Been Deadly, Flight School Owner Says," Feb. 20, 2012.