Ultralight crashes in Valley Ford; 1 hurt

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A 73-year-old man was hospitalized with significant injuries after he flew an ultralight aircraft into a power line Sunday evening in Valley Ford.

The unidentified pilot, who was the sole occupant of the recreational aircraft, had been flying low over a field.

“It looks like he hit the wire and did a nosedive,” said Sonoma County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Raasch at the scene about 7:30 p.m., 90 minutes after the crash. “He landed feet first and left good sized divot.”

The pilot injured his legs when he crashed around 6 p.m., Raasch said. A CHP helicopter flew the man to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He is expected to survive.

The ultralight recreational aircraft looked much like a hang glider but with a small motor and propeller, Raasch said. The wings were made of aluminum poles and synthetic fabric with the pilot sitting in an open seat with his legs exposed. The craft was destroyed in the crash.

The man took off from private property in Sebastopol and was traveling south when he struck the power line less than 100 feet off the ground on private property at 14792 School Road off Valley Ford Road, Raasch said.

Power to about 17 homes in the ranchland on the border of Sonoma and Marin counties was cut after the accident, according to PG&E. The power was expected to be restored by early today.

The firetrucks from nearby fire departments became stuck in the muddy wet grass after responding to the incident and had to be towed out by the property owner with his farm tractor, Raasch said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were notified but will not investigate, Raasch said.

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203.

Editor's note: An earlier report indicated an incorrect age for the pilot. The pilot's correct age is 73.

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