Mike Hickox was refueling his plane after night operations at the Placerville Airport on Dec. 1 when a man, identified only as “Nate,” walked up to him. Nate, Hickox said, had just hit a deer with his plane upon landing, causing the plane to crash down the side of an embankment on the left side of the runway. Nate, however, seemed no worse for the wear.
The Placerville Airport confirmed that a Bonanza aircraft had indeed hit a deer and ended up down an embankment. “No one was hurt, the plane lightly rolled” down the embankment, a spokesperson said. The airport was unable to give out any information about the pilot. The airport, however, was able to confirm the tail number of the plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza G35, owned by Jonathan Stong of Placerville.
At about 6 p.m., Hickox was approached by Nate, Hickox said, who asked if his Emergency Locater Transmitter had gone off.
“The ELT goes off anytime a place crashes and provides a beacon for other aircraft to find it,” Hickox said. “I then turned my radio to frequency 121.5 to see if his ELT was activated and sure enough it was.”
Nate borrowed Hickox’s flashlight to go turn the ELT off. After parking his own aircraft, Hickox went to investigate. He “walked out to the crash site and saw the aircraft which was not visible from the runway surface as it was down the embankment about 30 feet below runway level and 100 feet off the left side of the runway. The Bonanza was nose-down with the tail extending up, quite a sight no one wants to ever see — especially a pilot like myself.”
Hickox called the other pilot a “true hero,” as “Prior to my flight, Nate was able, in a matter of minutes after the collision with deer and going off the runway, to walk back up the embankment and clear the remains of the dead dear off the approach end of runway 23. I took off for my night operations shortly thereafter not having any idea a collision had taken place.”
Discussing the incident, Nate told Hickox “that there needs to be some strong measures to have the deer removed from the airport operations area as the airport is now fenced in and somehow they have been able to get inside the fenced area,” Hickox said. He added his own opinion, that the deer “have been inside the area for many years but this is the first time I heard of a collision between an airplane vs deer even though I’ve seen them around the airport.”