Two people taking part in a flight training event at the Porterville Municipal Airport Saturday walked away with minor injuries after their airplane suffered mechanical issues and caused the pilot to make an emergency landing in a vineyard.
The training event, hosted by the The Red Star Pilots Association, was a formation training clinic which started started Thursday and was expected to finish Sunday. Association President Hartley Postlethwaite confirmed Sunday that the pilot and passenger were participating in the event. The training marked the 16th year of the event.
Postlethwaite said the plane came down about six miles from the airport. Tulare County Sheriff’s Lt. Harold Liles said the exact location was in a vineyard in the area of Road 192 and Avenue 184. Liles added that the landing caused “quite a bit of damage” to the plane.
The aircraft is described as a Yak-52 plane. Postlethwaite said the pilot is experienced, and the off-field landing with minor injuries “is directly attributable to his previous experience which was augmented by the training at the All Red Star event.”
The report was made around 10:23 a.m. Saturday about a plane going down in a field. At noon, the California Highway Patrol was reporting the occupants were out of the plane. Liles said the pilot was taken to Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville for observation, but would be OK. The passenger walked out of the landing with minor injuries, Liles added.
Porterville Municipal Airport Manager Jim McDonald said the plane was in a storage unit at the airport Sunday. The Federal Aviation Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board were conducting an investigation. The agencies could not be reached Sunday. Roadways were not affected by the aircraft landing, according to the CHP reports.