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RIO VISTA, CA - A small plane clipped a helicopter just before 7 p.m. in the skies over the southern Delta near Sherman Island Sunday evening, according to authorities.
The two-seat Robinson R22 helicopter crashed about eight miles south of the airport just off Highway 160 in Sacramento County, said Deputy Jason Ramos of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley said the woman pilot suffered minor injuries.
Emergency officials on scene said the pilot came down about 50 feet from the highway. She was able to walk to the road where passersby had stopped to help.
"We saw a bunch of cars at the side of the road. We walked over that way, couldn't find the pilot - the pilot had walked away and was sitting in one of the vehicles," said Rio Vista Fire Department Captain Brandon Wilson.
The pilot had cuts on her hands and was taken to an area hospital to be checked, according to Ramos.
The plane, a six-seat Beechcraft, nearly made it to the Byron Airport in Contra Costa County approximately 20 miles away before landing short of the airport. Ramos said that pilot also sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.
It wasn't clear if there were passengers on either aircraft.
The helicopter is leased to Vertical CFI Helicopters, a training school in the Bay Area, and owned by Spitzer Leasing in Hayward. The pilot's flight purpose Sunday was unclear.
The man who owns Vertical CFI, Wayne Progers, said the woman flying the helicopter was getting in night flying hours to count toward her license. Progers said she, "did everything perfectly" in managing to land the helicopter safely.
The helicopter pilot even kept the craft's fuel from leaking into the ground on Sherman Island where she landed.
"The pilot did shut down the fuel system before leaving the helicopter, which was a tremendous help to us. We can't see any noticeable leaks of any fuel," said Wilson.
Firefighters said they were amazed the pilots both survived without serious injuries or worse.
"Pretty amazing. Very lucky," Wilson said.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
News10/KXTV and The Associated Press