BOISE, Idaho – A California pilot who survived a weekend plane crash with his wife and daughter said he intentionally "belly-flopped" his small plane against a snowy Idaho mountainside after its wings iced up.
"Basically we had the weather kind of close in on us," Brian Brown told KTVB-TV (http://bit.ly/L0Rpnu) in a telephone interview from St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise on Monday. The family has since been released from the hospital, hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Duncan said Tuesday.
The firefighter from Wilton, Calif., his wife Jayann and their adult daughter Heather were traveling to Mountain Home on Saturday to visit another daughter. Brown said he saw a storm brewing, so he landed the Cessna 172 at a gravel airstrip in Rome, Ore., where there were no services. When they saw a break in the storm, they took off toward Idaho.
As they flew into the mountains of southwestern Idaho, an unexpected cold front caused the airplane's wings to ice over.
"The plane stalled. I put it into a complete nose down position to get a little bit of air speed because I saw what we were going to run into on the other side, and then I basically abruptly pushed the nose back up," which caused the plane to belly-flop against the mountainside, he said.
The impact knocked off the doors. Brown said he and his wife went through the windshield.
The family huddled inside as temperatures dropped. They didn't believe they had any way to call for help because the airplane's radio and GPS systems were not working. Several hours later, however, Brown's iPhone rang.
"You know, the divine intervention there, in that aspect of things, was just incredible," Brown told KTVB.
His daughter called 911. Rescuers, who encountered 5-foot snowdrifts, provided medical aid and started a fire until the family was airlifted out Sunday afternoon.
"We were just in a bad situation that happens, and I just really wished it hadn't happened to us," he said.
Brown, who has been flying since he was 15, said he plans to fly again.
Information from: KTVB-TV, http://www.ktvb.com/