Pilot Survives After Propeller Breaks Off Plane at 13,000 Feet, Credits Eagle Scout Training for Survival

A Bay Area pilot says his training as an Eagle Scout helped him survive a crash landing in a remote part of the Sierra Nevada.

Tim Cassell, 65, described the harrowing moments to reporters on Monday after the propeller broke off his plane at 13,000 feet last week, forcing him to crash land in the middle of nowhere.

The man from suburban Saratoga was flying the single-engine Piper PA-28 from San Jose to his family’s resort in Lone Pine, east of Fresno, when the plane went down.

“I remember looking at my vertical speed indicator, and it said somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 feet per minute, descending,” Cassell said. “And I remember looking at my airspeed as I was coming down at this field of huge rocks and it was down around 65 mph.”

Less than a minute later, he crash landed in a remote canyon in Sequoia National Park. He crawled out of his plane with three broken ribs, a broken ankle and facial fractures.

For the next 18 hours, Cassell put his Eagle Scout training to the test, setting the plane’s beacon and wrapping himself in the plane’s cover to survive the frigid overnight temperatures. A pair of rangers eventually found him.

Cassel said while training was critical, he also believes that “God was his co-pilot.”

Cassel has been flying for seven years. When asked whether he plans to fly again, he said, “You bet.”

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