A two-minute-long video taken from inside the cockpit of a small airplane that crashed into a protected wilderness area in Idaho in June with four passengers aboard has gone viral online after being uploaded to YouTube by survivors.
The single-engine, four-seat plane crashed June 30 at about 3:30 p.m.local time after taking off from the Bruce Meadows Airport in Stanley, Idaho, according to Yahoo News, The passengers on board had just returned from a hiking trip in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, and said they were on their way to have dinner that night in McCall, Idaho, when they hit what one of them described as "an air pocket."
At the time of the crash, the plane was being piloted by owner Leslie Gropp, a 70-year-old technical lead at Hewlett-Packard and retired veteran of the Idaho Army National Guard. The only other passengers aboard were Gropp's son Tol Gropp, and two of his friends, Nathan Williams and Alexander Arhets.
Owner/pilot Gropp was the one most seriously injured -- Yahoo News reported he suffered a broken jaw and cheekbone -- but he is expected to make a full recovery. None of the other passengers were seriously injured, except Nathan Williams, who suffered a concussion.
The video Tol Gropp posted on YouTube shows the two minutes leading up to the crash along with his father's bloody injuries afterward. The last four seconds of the crash are then replayed in slow motion as the aircraft veers off wildly into the trees.
Tol Gropp claimed that the crash was the result of hitting "an air pocket that made us rapidly lose altitude" and that his father's quick thinking saved the lives of everyone on board. "I honestly believe my dad saved our lives by the way he continued to fly the plane through the trees and making sure he didn't give up or try and pull out of it too hard," said Tol Gropp.
But many YouTube video commenters didn't agree. "I'm a pilot. Your pilot should have known that the takeoff roll went on for way too long. You were probably overloaded for a high-density altitude takeoff," said user dandyer2116. "There was plenty of time to realize the error and set back down on the meadow."
"Also a pilot," seconded another user, craiglgood. "That's one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. He flew over all kind of flat meadow, knowing that he was struggling to? get out of ground effect, and yet continued into the trees. I hope his insurance company sees this video."
The passengers were rescued by local firefighters after nearby campers saw the plane go down and called for help.
View the video below to see footage of the crash.