SUTTER COUNTY (CBS 13) – One pilot is dead and another injured after a U-2 Air Force plane crashed near West Sutter Road. It happened just after 9 a.m. Tuesday on the mountainside of the Sutter Buttes.
“I was just passing through, I had finished a job,” said pilot Pete Spyres, a crop-dusting pilot who was flying his helicopter nearby. “As I was coming toward the hill, I just saw a little fire, some smoke. I saw the wings of a plane, I just saw a U-2 – I just knew exactly what it was.”
According to Beale Air Force Base, the plane was on a training mission with two pilots inside. Just minutes after takeoff, the plane went down and two men ejected.
Flames erupted moments after it hit the ground.
“That’s when I looked down and I saw something orange and white and I thought ‘well, maybe that’s a parachute!” Spyres said. “I looked down and sure as heck I could see a guy wavin’ at me and I thought ‘Well, he’s all right!’”
Spyres told CBS13 he couldn’t tell how the man was doing, but when he offered to help out fire officials they told him they were sending up their own helicopter to make the rescue.
“Devastation!” Spyres said with tears in his eyes when we told him that one of the pilots passed away. “Nobody wants to see a fellow pilot go down.”
A crew of Air Force investigators arrived on the scene Tuesday afternoon to document the accident and try to determine more about what caused the plane to go down.