Fresno Pilot Killed in Monday Crash Spoke About Walking Away From a Burning Plane 14 Years Ago

A tragedy avoided in 2002 as Huene lands his plane moments before it explodes

The wreckage of the plane involved in Monday's fatal accident that killed two people in Northwest Fresno, was removed from the San Joaquin river Wednesday. Meanwhile, we take a look back at a tragedy the same pilot avoided 14 years ago.  William Huene spoke with Eyewitness News just moments after he and a passenger walked away from a plane as it exploded in 2002.
 
His first brush with disaster played out in the skies just above Fresno 14 years ago.  William "Bill" Huene was forced to make an emergency landing in a field just east of Highway 99.  He and a passenger made it out unharmed, just before the plane burst into flames.
 
In a 2002 interview, Huene said, "You know it all happened so quickly. As far as I'm aware, the engine did quit.  It had no air pressure."
 
Huene's interview was captured by our cameras in 2002 as the pilot's plane burned up behind him.  His wife and then baby daughter were by his side, thankful a tragedy had been avoided.  So was his passenger.
 
David Deel says in a 2002 interview, ""All of a sudden the plane started to flutter and it shook really hard."
 
More than a decade later, Huene's passenger and close friend David Deel, relived the moments in an interview Tuesday.
 
"The engine of the plane was the issue, not the plane itself. It was kind of a scary thing," says Deel.
 
In an interview at the scene moments after the plane went down Deel said, "We're okay. Just a little shaken up.  No bruises, no broken bones."
 
Deel says it took years before Huene would fly again.  But, eventually the pilot's passion brought him back into the skies.  On Monday, the 47 year old husband and father of two,  took his last flight when his plane crashed into the San Joaquin River, killing him and his passenger 32 year old Chase Splan, also a husband and father of two.
 
"It's kind of hard.  I haven't really got my head around the while thing yet.  It's going be hard. He always wanted to help you out any way he could."
 
Huene's wife also praised her husband for his piloting skills following the 2002 incident.
 
"Give him nothing short of full credit for the success of this landing."
 
And even after his passing, those skills and the type of person Huene was, are being remembered.
 
Eyewitness News has learned that both of Huene's planes involved in the separate incidents were home-built air crafts.  According to a neighbor, Huene had just purchased the plane he was flying Monday in august this year.  We're told it was the first plane the pilot owned since his last one was destroyed in that fire back in 2002.

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