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Cessna pilot walks away after crash landing near Ruch

RUCH — A Grants Pass man walked away unscathed after flipping his plane during a forced landing in a field near Cantrall Buckley Park on Sunday afternoon.

James H. Nance was piloting a single-engine Cessna T210M through clear skies en route to Southern California from the Grants Pass Airport when he encountered mechanical issues shortly after crossing into Siskiyou County. Nance turned his airplane back, radioed the Medford airport tower about his engine difficulties, and decided to put down roughly 15 to 20 miles from where he took off.

As the white aircraft with yellow and red striping descended into the Applegate Valley, local firefighters spotted the plane.

Applegate Fire District Capt. Greg Gilbert was on the deck behind the station when he saw the stricken plane.

"At first we thought it was crop dusting because there was so much white smoke pouring out," Gilbert said. "We saw it flip and we were on the road before we even got the (dispatch) tones."

Nance, 57, who was headed to Long Beach, Calif., found a relatively flat but muddy hay field not far from the entrance to Cantrall Buckley County Park off Hamilton Road. Gilbert said the call came in at 2:57 p.m. and his rig was on the scene one minute later.

"He came in pretty hot, and had to put on the brakes," Gilbert said. "As he braked, he found a pothole and flipped."

The pilot was alone, uninjured, emerged from the plane without help, and declined ambulance transport.

"You never know with smaller aircraft," Gilbert said. "I've been to other landings like this where it didn't turn out so well. The good thing was that he was trying to land at a flatter angle instead of a nose dive."

Gilbert suggested the six-seat Cessna, built in 1977, would stay put until Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and insurance inspectors had surveyed the scene.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.