By Patric Hedlund
“It is sort of part of the adventure, you meet an awful lot of fantastic people when things like that happen,” retired businessman William Thomason said in an interview on Monday, July 11.
The previous Friday he had crash landed his 1961 Piper Colt airplane upside down in a dry stream bed near Camp Sheideck in Lockwood Valley. Thomason and a friend were on their way to a Piper Cub Flyin at Lompoc. They followed the Interstate 5 from Sonoma, then turned west above Lockwood Valley about 1:15 p.m.
“I don’t know why, but we were losing power,” the pilot explained. He has been flying since the 1950s, he said. “I decided I better set it down.”
The nose gear bit the soft soil of the wash and dug in, flippng the plane over in a slow motion somersault. Thomason and his friend were hanging upside down in the cockpit.
“We got out as gingerly as we could, undoing the wires for the headsets,” he chuckled.
It was two hours before a family of campers with two children who were playing in the wash discovered the aviators and helped them get in touch with the authorities.
Deputy sheriffs from two counties arrived, including William Hollowell from the Ventura County Sheriff’s substation in Lockwood Valley.
An EMT from the Ventura County fire unit gave the men a thumbs up. They had only a slight scrape or two, nothing that required aid, Thomason reported.
Friends picked them up and got them to Lompoc in time for the tri-tip barbecue.
“The little girl who found us gave us a big hug when we said good-bye,” Thomason said, adding that he enjoyed the convention and didn’t mention the crash to many people there. Then on Monday he turned to finding a knowledgeable salvage company to help get the plane out of the wash.
This is part of the July 15, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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