By Jesus Reyes
A small plane crashed on the main runway at Palm Springs International Airport Friday afternoon, sending the pilot to the hospital with serious injuries.
The FAA confirmed to News Channel 3’s Jake Ingrassia the pilot was practicing taking off and landing when she crashed.
Firefighters rushed in to rescue the trapped woman from the fixed wing single-engine Cessna 172, that collided with the bigger of the airport’s two runways just after 2 p.m.
ALERT- units are on the scene of a small aircraft crash. 1 passenger with major injuries, the patient has been extricated and transported to a local hospital. pic.twitter.com/zcyMhdPXEP
— Palm Springs Fire Department (@PalmSpringsFire) December 4, 2020
Emergency crews said the woman, who was flying alone, is badly hurt with two broken legs and injuries “head to toe.”
“Very extensive damage to the plane,” said Capt. Nathan Gunkel with the Palm Springs Fire Department. “The patient was completely entrappedm so very extensive rescue to get her out of there.”
Gunkel said fortunately, the wreckage was just 100 yards from the airport fire station. It was a rush to prevent flames, he said, as gallons of fuel spewed out of the aircraft.
“We had active fuel leaking the entire time, not only on the ground, but on the patient, inside the air craft, on top of our rescuers the way the aircraft was positioned,” he said.
Fire crews and sprayed foam over the fuel before a fire erupted.
According to aviation tracking website FlightAware, the plane took off around 1:45 p.m. Friday and appeared to circle the airport several times before the crash landing 20 minutes later.
It took about three hours for the plane to be towed off the runway.
The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash. The NTSB will determine the probable cause of the accident, according to Gregor.