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Plane, copter clip each other over CA, pilots hurt

Plane, copter clip each other over N. Calif., leaving pilots with minor injuries By The Associated Press

RIO VISTA, Calif. (AP) ' A small plane and a helicopter clipped each other over Northern California Sunday night, forcing both aircraft into emergency landings and leaving the two pilots with minor injuries, officials said.

The six-seat Beechcraft Bonanza made a rough landing in a field just short of an airport, while the two-seat Robinson R22 helicopter set down in a field just off state Highway 160, the officials said.

The accident occurred about 7 p.m. about eight miles south of the small Rio Vista Municipal Airport, halfway between Oakland and Sacramento along the Sacramento River, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

There was no immediate word on what may have caused the accident or any details on damage to the two aircraft.

The male pilot of the single-engine plane and the 29-year-old female helicopter pilot were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, Sacramento County sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos said. The woman had cuts to her hands, he said.

The helicopter pilot was the only person aboard, and there were two aboard the plane, Gregor said. There were no reports of any injuries to the plane passenger.

The helicopter pilot came down about 50 feet from the highway, turned off her fuel tank and walked to the road to get help from drivers, Sacramento County and California Highway Patrol officials at the scene told Sacramento's KXTV-TV.

The plane had taken off and intended to land at an airport in the town of Byron, some 20 miles to the south, but went down shortly before reaching it.

Both aircraft had private owners, according to FAA records.

The 1961 Beechcraft plane is registered to Ronald A. Gawer of Brentwood, Calif. in Contra Costa County, the records show.

The 2005 Robinson helicopter is registered to a Hayward-based business owned by Matthew Spitzer and was leased to Vertical CFI, a pilot training school, Spitzer's wife, Rosemary, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. A Vertical CFI official didn't immediately respond to a phone message.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

Neither of the two small, two-runway airports involved have an air traffic control tower.

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