The single engine plane that crashed near Placerville, killing one man, was based in the Bay Area.
Facebook video shows Richard Nieland of San Jose flying the Starduster II biplane, which he kept at Reed-Hillview Airport. Nieland survived the crash, which happened Saturday evening about 7 p.m. outside tiny Swansboro Country Airport.
“He missed power lines, phone lines, treetops, everything else,” Battalion Chief Chris Johns told reporters at the scene Sunday. “And the last crash we had up here was probably twenty years ago.”
When fire and sheriff’s responders arrived, they found one man dead in the plane, and airlifted Nieland to the hospital in Roseville, where he is reported in serious condition.
“It could have even been his son and him flying,” said neighbor Brian Voigt, “because both of them did have their pilots licenses.”
At Nieland’s South San Jose home, no one answered the door, and his neighbors across the street had only good things to say about their friend of thirty years.
“He’s a good guy,” said Brian Voigt, “and a hard worker, he travels a lot for his aerospace job.”
They say Nieland has two sons, and his eldest son, 22 year old Tyler, lives with him and is also a pilot. The Voigts recall just a few years ago, Richard Nieland learned to fly and bought the plane.
“He was excited, so excited that he got that pilots license and he was going to be able to start doing it,” Jeannette Voigt told KTVU, “single guy, so he was thrilled. And we said ‘good for you!’”
On Monday, the El Dorado County coroner plans to reveal who was flying the plane, and the name of the person who died.
Witness accounts suggest the pilot was coming in to land, but instead circled away from the airport, and disappeared from view.
People in the community of Mosquito felt the impact, but no one on the ground was hurt.
“Yeah I feel lucky,” said Violet Jacobs, who lives near the crash. “I am the luckiest person on the face of the earth.”