Couple walk away from crash landing

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Two people who crash landed their small aircraft in Utah will return to California with a mini-documentary of their close call. They were flying home from an air show in Wisconsin when their plane went down in North Salt Lake.

A small, 1947 Stinson crash landed in a field just east of Interstate 215 near 2100 North in Salt Lake City after it began having engine problems Monday afternoon. Even though the two weren't injured in the crash, they say it was still terrifying for them. Right now, they just feel lucky to have survived.

Carol Vargas and her pilot boyfriend took off from Oshkosh, Wisc., and were supposed to fly to Redding, Calif. They made it only to Salt Lake City.

Vargas had been tweeting and taking video of their trip, so when the engines stopped working on the 1947 Stinson just after 1 p.m., she had the camera handy and was able to capture the moment right after their crash landing.

"We crashed. We crashed. We're alive. Thank you God. We are alive," she said in the video.

Scott Freitag, with the Salt Lake City Fire Department, said, "The pilot just did a fantastic job in a very scary sort of situation."

At 10,000 feet, the pilot noticed the small, 1947 Stinson was having engine problems. When it stopped completely, the couple called the Salt Lake International tower for help.

The pilot aimed for the airport runway but couldn't make it. So he chose the next best thing, an open field.

"I said, ‘Keep it in the air, try to keep it in the air.' I said, ‘watch out for the ditch.' We would've been OK. I knew it as soon as I saw the ditch, but he couldn't keep it up in the air. He did the best he could," Vargas said.

"I was holding onto the cross brace," Vargas continued. "He's holding onto the yoke. We nosed over. Dust came up everywhere. Everything came flying. My 2-liter bottle of soda was like a missile into the front." Vargas, known as "Friskytravelers" on Twitter, tweeted throughout the experience, saying "We crashed the plane in Salt Lake City!" And as soon as they touched down, Vargas had her camera rolling

This wasn't the couple's first adventure. Vargas tweeted earlier about nearly running out of gas on a different flight this weekend. Now, the frisky travelers are just happy to be safe on the ground.

"I can't believe it we survived. We survived. We survived," Vargas said.

It'll take investigators a few days to figure out what caused the engine failure.

The couple now has to decide what to do with the airplane--take it to California on a flatbed or leave it to salvage.


Compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and Courtney Orton

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