EL CAJON, Calif. — One person was slightly injured during an aircraft emergency near Gillespie Field Saturday morning, authorities confirmed.
The Heartland Fire and Rescue Department responded to the scene at Airport Drive and Magnolia Avenue around 11 a.m., fire officials told FOX 5.
The airplane crashed into the fence surrounding Gillespie Field, narrowly missing a vehicle on the road, Heartland Fire Battalion Chief Dave Hardenburger said. Officials say two people — a pilot instructor and his student — were on board the aircraft at the time of the incident.
One person reported to have slight injuries and the other walked away uninjured. Heartland Fire says both refused transportation to a medical facility.
FOX 5 spoke with the pilot instructor and his student about the crash. They said the plane was about 800 feet above ground when the engine gave out.
The instructor then took over flying from the student, but had difficulty restarting the engine. When it became apparent that they would have to land, the instructor said he tried to fine a safe space to come down that was away from homes and billboards.
In the descent, the aircraft hit a wire fence that it dragged across Magnolia Avenue before crashing into Gillespie Field’s fence, according to Hardenburger.
The pilot instructor and student said they had to rely on their training for a safe landing. They recalled the moment the plane’s engine went out as “surreal.”
“It was kind of just like ‘Oh heck, here we go,'” Steve Mitchell, the Blue Max Aviation pilot instructor, said. “(I) wasn’t afraid — you don’t know what you don’t know.”
“We didn’t have many options,” added the student, Charles Castle. “It was either the highway or here. I was just along for the ride. I closed my eyes a little bit, because he was in control after. But, I just hoped for the best … We got very lucky.”
The National Transportation Safety Board was called to scene and will handle an investigation into the matter.
FOX 5’s Danielle Dawson contributed to this report.