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2 Unhurt in Plane’s Crash-Landing : Sun Valley: A single-engine Cessna loses power just after takeoff. The flight instructor brings it down in a flood-control basin.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A flight instructor and his student escaped injury Saturday when their single-engine plane lost power and crashed into a Sun Valley flood-control basin just minutes after takeoff from Pacoima’s Whiteman Airport, authorities said.

The instructor, Dar Kindred, and the student, Keith Suhl, suffered only minor cuts when the Cessna 182 crash-landed and tipped over in shallow water behind an industrial yard near the Hansen Dam Golf Course, officials said.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation administration were investigating the incident to determine the cause of the plane’s loss of power.

“It could have been a lot worse than it was,” Kindred said. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before--and I hope it never happens again.”

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Kindred, a veteran instructor at SunQuest Aircraft at Whiteman, said he and Suhl were en route to Fox Field in Palmdale on a practice instrument test flight. He said they had taken extra precautions during a preflight inspection of the plane because of recent heavy rains.

The pair took off about 11:42 a.m., with Suhl, a licensed pilot, at the controls, Kindred said. When they were about 200 feet off the ground, the engine quit.

“It just got quiet, and we both looked at each other,” he said. “We knew what had happened.”

Taking the controls, Kindred attempted to maneuver the plane toward the golf course less than half a mile away, but soon realized it did not have enough momentum to glide that distance. The only alternative was to guide the plane into the flat basin, which was coated with water, he said.

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Kindred said he pointed the plane down, knowing that the mud landing would probably cause the aircraft to flip.

He added that he and Suhl were not frightened by their plight. “There just was not enough time to be scared. This is something that you think about all the time, that you practice for when you’re a pilot. We just did what came naturally.”

After the plane landed and flipped, the two scrambled out of the plane into the water. They shivered in the afternoon breeze, their clothes drenched, while being questioned by police and transportation investigators.

“I know we were very, very lucky,” Kindred said.

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“Lucky to put it in the water. And lucky that this did not end in a worse way.”


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