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Soviet-era biplane crashes upside down in Highland, pilot and passenger uninjured

A small plane was downed Friday in San Bernardino County, but there were no immediate reports of injuries, authorities said.

It can fly low. It can fly slow. Some even say it can fly backward.

But for all its remarkable abilities, the Soviet-era Antonov An-2 biplane still needs one thing to stay in the air — power.

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On Friday, the engine on one of the 1940s aircraft cut out about two miles from San Bernardino International Airport, sending it careening down into a Highland residential neighborhood just before noon, Federal Aviation Administration and San Bernardino County sheriff’s officials said.

The plane landed upside down in a field near 9th Street and Lankershim Avenue, but its pilot and passenger emerged uninjured.

About the same time the plane flew through power lines, Southern California Edison reported about 3,000 customers in the area lost electricity. About 100 of them may not have power until about 8:30 p.m., a company spokesman said.

The plane is well known among pilots and workers at the airport because of its distinct look and bright orange and yellow paint job. It's owned by the Commemorative Air Force and assigned to the 3rd Pursuit Squadron out of Upland and was built in 1984, a company official said.

That model aircraft is the workhorse of communist countries like North Korea, the then-Soviet Union and China, according to multiple media reports.

The An-2 is known for its peculiar wing design that provides powerful lift at low speeds, allowing it to take off in short distances and, according to a report from the BBC, fly backward if headwinds are strong enough.

It can be used for crop dusting or, because it can fly so low and slow, as a transport that paratroopers can launch from. The BBC described it as "a tractor with wings."

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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