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Nevada County plane crash victims talk story of survival

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    YUBA CITY, California (KOVR) — In a story of survival, two men were able to walk away after their plane crashed in rural Nevada County.

The engine of the plane suddenly died as they were headed to Reno. The men spoke with CBS13 about their very close call, which happened Wednesday morning.

At around 7 a.m., AJ Hyatt and his friend Jerry Jaeger were at an airport in Yuba City. Hyatt says he had flown the plane just a day prior and didn’t experience any issues. Both men were still in shock Thursday, astounded how both were able to walk away.

“His piloting was excellent in this situation,” Jaeger said.

Hyatt was too humble to credit his own bravery and skill. While in the air, Hyatt noticed the engine on his plane getting hot.

“Just as we got to 85, the engine gave a kind of burp and Jerry said ‘What the hell,’ ” Hyatt said. “We are both scared spitless because we are over some really bad country.”

Hyatt immediately called traffic control, who instructed him to land at blue canyon about 12 miles away – but he knew that wasn’t possible.

“So we are just going to have to put it somewhere and give up the airplane but survive,” he said.

Knowing options for landing were limited to trees and mountains, the pair spotted a small patch of brush.

“So I said, ‘Jerry, we are going to have to go in,’ ” Hyatt said.

They prayed for the best, keeping their faith as their focus.

“Just as I was just coming, the wing tip on the right side clipped a tree and that slung us around,” Hyatt said.

He believes the tree and brush helped soften their landing by absorbing the impact. Both miraculously were able to walk away and return home to their wives.

“The first thing Jerry said after vegetation settled was ‘Thank you for saving my life, today is my anniversary,’ ” Hyatt said with a laugh. “Of course I was glad to save his life and save my own as well, even though I regretted losing the airplane.”

“Just astounding how well it worked out compared to how it might have been,” Hyatt added.

Hyatt and Jaeger do plan on flying together again. Hyatt hopes to speak with the National Transportation Safety Board to find out why the engine gave out.

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