A propeller snapped off the drive shaft of a small T Mini Max aircraft Tuesday afternoon, falling over 2,000 feet onto the tile roof of a Manteca home before the plane glided into a plowed field west of Airport Way and south of Louise Avenue, 1.5 miles away.
Turlock resident Bob McCammond, a retired California National Guard flight engineer, guided the home-built plane over several residential neighborhoods along Union Road to a point north of the Manteca Golf Course where he made a right turn and headed for the open field west of Airport Way passing over the last homes and power lines at less than 100 feet.
Lupe Olmos was in his driveway changing oil in his daughter's car when he and other family members heard what they described as the approach of the sputtering aircraft and witnessed it flying low overhead.
Olmos, along with another man and a motorcycle rider on Airport Way, ran across the dirt field to the plane they found flipped over on its back. He said the pilot appeared to be unhurt. They all worked together to right the aircraft back onto its wheels.
Fire, ambulance and Lathrop Police Services units responded to the scene on the report of a plane down, finding it was less serious than they had expected. It was determined that the field location was just inside the Manteca city limits and Manteca Police officer Jason Downs took over the investigation.
The pilot said he had just purchased the $3,500 home built aircraft Monday morning in Rio Vista and flew it to Lodi to top off its fuel tank. He left Lodi about 3 p.m. heading for his home in Turlock when the drive belt to the propeller snapped and the engine went into a screaming high speed spin.
He noted that he couldn't contact the Stockton Metro Airport control tower of his emergency status, because kit planes are not required to have radios installed as part of their equipment.
Les Hammond, who lives in the 2500 block of Edgebrook Lane, had just arrived home from a long day at his Knight's Plumbing and Drain and One Hour Heating and Air businesses when he heard a loud thud on his tile roof, just as he was kicking off his shoes in the bedroom.
Investigating, he found a propeller had dug a hole into his roof directly over where he had been sitting. He found the five-foot-long propeller next to the impact point. Broken tile debris was scattered in his swimming pool next to his back fence that borders Union Road.
Firemen used a ladder to retrieve the propeller from the rear side of the single story home.
The Turlock pilot said he would have several friends help him load the plane with its 25-foot wingspan onto a trailer and transport it to an airport hanger where they would determine whether it could be made air worthy once again.