State Parks: Seaplane flips over during illegal landing at San Luis Reservoir


A pilot is lucky to be alive after a landing went terribly wrong in Los Banos.

A single engine aircraft ended upside down in San Luis Reservoir around 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon. The FAA says the plane flipped over while landing.

“It essentially looked like two capsized kayaks with wheels sticking up,” said Gerald Heberling of California State Parks. 

Unable to see the plane, other than the bottom of the pontoons, Heberling says the pilot escaped and showed up at headquarters saying he flipped his plane in the lake. 

He was not hurt.

“I heard the pilot when he flipped over, he had a foot or two of air remaining in the plane so he was able to catch a breath and get out of the plane somehow,” Heberling added.

The plane was eventually towed to land. It lost a wing, some of it is covered in dirt, and the windshield is shattered. 

On Wednesday, the pilot declined to talk to us but we’re told the plane is a loss.

According to FAA records, the plane is registered in California’s Santa Clara County.

While this plane is designed to land in the water, State Parks says this landing was illegal.

“It has not been an aquaport for over five years because we have invasive species that we do not want in here,” Heberling explained.

Heberling says there are also high winds that make it dangerous for seaplanes.

We’re told the pilot was ticketed, and he could face charges.

Meantime, the plane is propped in the parking lot of the Basalt Boat Launch area where it’s drawing attention. 

“It’s a mess,” said boater, Melvin Souza. “We came in this morning at 6 and we saw it here and thought what the heck happened.”

State Parks says it expects the plane to be removed by Friday.

“This is a rare sight. We’re very fortunate that the pilot was not injured and no one was hurt in this,” Heberling concluded.

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