WASHINGTON - A Chico-based air tank pilot committed to a forced landing just 500 feet from the ground on Tuesday afternoon.
The pilot experienced an engine failure while fighting a wildfire in Washington. He is out of the hospital, but has a couple of broken ribs and a bruised lung.
The fire tanker, known as the "Fire-Boss" aircraft, had just scooped water from the Columbia River, a couple miles from the fire area.
The pilot suddenly heard a loud bang and immediately made a distress call, declaring "mayday."
He then dropped his water load and made an instant decision for a forced landing into the trees.
"Catastrophic engine failure is very rare and this type of an engine or airplane. The airplane is almost brand new, less than 500 hours on the airplane," the General Manager of Air Spray, Ravi Saip said.
Saip said the pilot's expertise and training were flawless. He explained how Air Spray is overwhelmed with gratitude that this pilot was able to survive the forced landing.
These pilots are executing retardant and water drops to help firefighters on ground level.
Air Spray is working with their engine manufacturers to investigate the aircraft incident further.
These pictures are of the actual aircraft, provided by Air Spray U.S.A.