Two men dangled upside down in their seat belts in a plane snarled in high-voltage lines 80 feet above ground for four hours early yesterday, and television viewers said the drama was "better than a movie."
The two men finally crawled to safety across the underside of the upended Cessna 172's wing and into the arms of firefighters in a "cherry picker."
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the low-flying, single-engine Skyhawk snagged the power lines Tuesday night on approach to Ontario International Airport and flipped upside down, dangling by its propeller and landing gear. It was about two miles short of the runway.
Electricity to the 220,000-volt lines was cut automatically on impact.
A local television station provided live coverage of the rescue. "We got literally thousands of calls," KTLA station manager Ken Levine said. "People were saying how wonderful it was, better than a movie." The KTLA broadcast was used by Cable News Network.
The plane eventually was removed by cranes. Pilot Dean Plath, of Tustin, and his passenger, Clarence (Ed) Washburn, of Whittier, who were on a training flight to recertify Plath for night flying, were reported in good condition.
Washburn reportedly told a firefighter that something apparently went wrong with the glide slope indicator in the Cessna 172.