BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – A federal investigation is under way to determine exactly what caused a crash landing in Jefferson County over the weekend.
The crash happened Sunday at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport when a student pilot and his instructor got caught in some high winds. The plane came to a rest upside-down and was heavily damaged, but both men walked away from the crash.
Sean Garneau, 18, of Superior was worried about a fiery plane crash and whether the spinning propeller would invade the cockpit. But that didn’t happen because his instructor, who didn’t want to be identified, cut the power to the plane and the fuel supply before impact.
Garneau praised his instructor for saving his life.
“Oh my gosh I am lucky and blessed to be here,” he said.
Garneau was finishing his lesson when suddenly strong winds rocked the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
“It kind of looked like we were a toy airplane. It was throwing us around pretty hard.”
The decision was made to cut the lesson short and land.
“There was some microbursting and down-drafts and we couldn’t gain any altitude, so it was either keep going and possibly crash into houses or crash in the road.”
While fighting the wind the instructor attempted to land at the longest runway at Rocky Mountain Airport. Coming in at 30 miles per hour another burst of wind forced a hard landing short of the runway.
“We landed in the dirt and did a little flip,” Garneau said. “When we were flipping it was a lot of force and it was scary. Because at that point, you’re thinking the propeller may back-strike and literally chop you to pieces.”
With the plane upside-down, they were left dangling.
“We were pretty dazed, pretty confused at that moment. We unclipped and dropped to the roof of the plane and his door was open so we crawled out and gave each other a hug,” Garneau said. “At that moment it was pretty emotional knowing that we shouldn’t have made it out of that crash.”
Garneau wants to fly again. He actually wants to someday become a fighter pilot.
The flight school didn’t want to comment.