TUESDAY, JULY 30 ––– Inyo County sheriff’s officials said an Orange County family is lucky to be alive after a single-engine airplane carrying them home from Mammoth Lakes had to make an emergency landing in a field south of Lone Pine.
According to Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Carma Roper, pilot Sohail Simjee and three passengers, all of Orange County, flew out of the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport at about 12:45 p.m. Sunday in a small Bonanza aircraft.
Due to weather concerns – a summer thunderstorm had rolled into the area – Simjee landed at the Lone Pine Airport to wait out the rain, Roper said.
At about 3 p.m. Simjee and his passengers set out again. “While ascending to about 500 feet, the engine failed and Simjee had to make an emergency landing in a field just south of (State Route) 136,” Roper said. “As soon as the family was out of the plane, it caught fire. They are certainly lucky to be alive.”
Roper said the aircraft was a total loss, but the four occupants suffered only minor injuries. They were treated at Southern Inyo Hospital and released.
Roper said an investigation into the aircraft’s failure has been launched by the Federal Aviation Administration.