By Steve Large


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A crash landing with a splash, as a small seaplane goes down in the American River, sending two people to the hospital.

The pilot was in stable condition Wednesday night while his passenger is in critical condition.

CBS13 learned Wednesday that the plane has made successful landings on the Sacramento River before. There’s even video evidence of that landing from 2015, navigating the waterway not far from the Delta King and the I Street Bridge.

The pilot reportedly told first responders he was trying a “touch and go” on the waterway when the plane crashed. He didn’t send out a mayday call because he was trying a maneuver when something went wrong.

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While the pilot was able to extract himself from the aircraft, first responders and dive teams rescued the passenger who had significant injuries, according to Sacramento Fire public information officer, Keith Wade.

It was a bizarre sight from above on the American river, seeing a submerged experimental seaplane as cars whizzed by on Interstate 5 nearby.

Steve Thompson is a certified flight instructor who says in general–landing on open water in a seaplane is legal “provided that its safe…and it is not an area that is a sanctuary a bird sanctuary or any sort of sanctuary for animals that you can land.”

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Officials at Rancho Murrieta Airport also said because these types of aircraft can land on water, they are legally allowed to use any waterway a boat can navigate.

David Heyd watched the plane go down after making one pass along the water and attempting another. He said the plane sounded like it was having engine trouble.

“When he came by the second time, before he ditched it, it was revving really high and abruptly stopped,” Heyd said.

The seaplane is registered to an owner in Napa.

Investigators are still working to determine what went wrong on the flight, sending the aircraft underwater.

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