Pilot recalls making emergency landing on roof of Pomona building

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From his hospital bed, a pilot describes the moment his single-engine plane lost power and he was forced to make an emergency landing on the roof of a state parole building in Pomona.

Donald Bach was in good spirits Monday night after being transferred to Kaiser Permanente Orange County in Anaheim.

"I'm very blessed" Bach said, which may be the understatement of the year coming from a pilot whose single-engine plane lost power while flying over Pomona Sunday afternoon.

"It was kind of a shock but there was not a whole lot of options, you know. There were homes and there were cars, and both involved people. Fortunately, I saw a spot there that I could try to bring it in, slam on the brakes, and I think God was the good pilot here," he said.

The 61-year-old's Piper PA-28 shut down around 4:30 p.m. and ended up on top of a state parole building at 971 Corporate Center Drive.

"I [knew] I was going down. I had maybe 1,000 feet or 1,200 feet to work with. Homes were there, the cars on the freeway, it just wasn't an option. Thank goodness there was a little place I could try to get in there," he said.

Amazingly, Bach managed to drop the plane right on the roof. He says one of the tires anchored the plane in place.

In the meantime, surprised witnesses and good Samaritans rushed to his aid and Bach regained consciousness as paramedics arrived.

"First thing I realized is that my neck and my back was all fine and my spine, and I thought I'm the luckiest guy in the world," he said.

He suffered a few bumps and bruises, but nothing that will keep him from flying again.

"This will be a piece of cake. I've got a couple of broken bones in my ankle area, and then I've got a couple broken bones in my hand here, and then I don't think I'll be eye candy for a while -- my poor head here -- but that's about it," Bach said.

There's no doubt that Bach's 40 years of flying experience came in handy. He said he followed procedure. He tried to restart the engine, but it failed again.

His advice to pilots who find themselves in similar situations is to find a place to land, "don't change your mind and just go for it."
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newslos angeles county fire departmentemergency landingplane crashairplanePomonaLos Angeles County
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