A 54-year-old Terrebonne man who suffered non-life threatening injuries in the crash of his small plane west of Terrebonne Wednesday night called Deschutes County 911 dispatchers for help, and a Life Flight helicopter’s floodlight helped guide searchers to the wreckage.
Just after 9 p.m. Wednesday, county sheriff’s office was dispatched to the area of McKenzie Canyon and Lower Bridge Way on the reported plane crash, said Sgt. Deke DeMars.
Redmond fire Battalion Chief Jon Wood said crews were dispatched to an area near 70505 NW Lower Bridge Way after 911 dispatchers said the pilot, David Evan Heller, 54, called to say he'd crashed his plane.
Several deputies and Redmond Fire Department crews began an extensive search for the aircraft, and with the assistance of Life Flight, the aircraft, a 1959 Champion 7FC, was found on private property in a secluded rural area, DeMars said.
Redmond Fire & Rescue activated the nearest air ambulance, Life Flight, which responded from Redmond Airport, Wood said, adding that it found the plane around 9:50 p.m.
Redmond fire crews and deputies hiked to the crash scene, and arrived about 20 minutes after it was found from the air, Wood said.
The firefighter-medics removed Heller from the wreckage and carried him to a nearby field, where the helicopter landed and took him to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where he was listed in fair condition Thursday morning.
DeMars said an investigation found that the plane was on final approach to a nearby private airstrip.
Heller, an experienced pilot, was flying at about 65 mph on approach, but was too low and crashed into several trees before it reached the runway, DeMars said.
The sheriff’s sergeant said Heller “is very familiar with the performance and characteristics of the aircraft.” The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.
There did not appear to be any rupturing of the fuel tanks, DeMars added.