CNN - A commuter train speeding toward them, the police officers rush to the wrecked airplane on the tracks -- its bloodied pilot still inside.
"Go, go, go!" an officer yells as they drag the apparently disoriented pilot to safety.
Four seconds later, the Metrolink train's horn blasts as it rips through the empty plane, body camera video of the rescue Friday afternoon in a Los Angeles neighborhood shows.
The pilot had taken off from nearby Whiteman Airport before crashing, Breitenfeldt said. The plane "lost power (and) crashed onto tracks" near Whiteman Airport, LAPD's Operations-Valley Bureau tweeted.
I was going to say this is the luckiest guy ever to still be alive: that the cops showed up exactly when they did, that those particular cops showed up, the ones built with Hero bones, who risked their lives for him, a stranger; that they got him loose exactly four (4) seconds before a very bloody, very gruesome death via high impact collision. Very fortunate, all of those things.
But then I realized that he was a pilot in an airplane. Those are supposed to be up in the sky. As a pilot myself I can confirm that train schedules are very low on the pre-flight checklist; you don't often consider getting hit by one as an occupational hazard or potential listed “cause of death" on the job. So the fact that this video exists in the first place — that a pilot not only crashed, but crash-landed in the middle of train tracks — not only crash-landed in the middle of train tracks, but crash-landed in the middle of train tracks at this time, when an actual train happens to be actually coming — I legitimately don't think it's hyperbole to say that might be one of the UNluckiest situations ever? I mean, statistically speaking, let's look at what we've got here:
A ) your plane crashing, which, as anyone with a fear of flying knows....(because everyone, including complete strangers, won't hesitate to let you know that you're "more likely to die in a car crash!," as if they're the first person to ever mention it and they've just made some huge, insanely helpful revelation, and naturally you will now thank them profusely for their rational, science-based statistical analysis that will surely cure this thing that is completely irrational by nature).....you're odds of this are very low. On top of that you've got
B ) your plane crashing on THAT exact spot, active train tracks, which are what, like (I'm holding my arms out pretty wide right now but not as far as they can go) THIS wide? The surface area of "the space between train tracks" vs. "everything else underneath an airplane" is like...real low. (Mathematically speaking.) Obviously this changes if you're purposely aiming to land there because it's a long flat spot, but I haven't seen any information from reports that he had any control over his crashing or choice of where to land. I don't know if he was like Denzel flying it upside down while drunk and coked out right into the path of the Metrolink. Regardless, he still
C ) ended up THERE, at THIS time...when a train was on it's way, going what (by my estimation) appeared to be roughly 900 mph.
Put all that together and I feel like luck-wise it all just kind of evened out. So maybe headline should have been just "Pilot Crash Lands."
Glad he's okay and HUGE shout-out to those officers, who, luck had nothing to do with them — they chose to put themselves there, and didn't leave (or flinch even) until they had this complete stranger out to safety.
Three officers involved in the rescue told CNN's Kate Bolduan on Monday what happened at the scene. "It wasn't until I heard one of my coworkers behind me say, 'The train is coming and we need to get him out now,'" said Officer Christopher Aboyte.
"At that point I never actually turned to see the train, just focused on getting the pilot out and getting away from that aircraft since there was a lot of aircraft fuel on the ground," Aboyte said.
"It happened so fast, we didn't really have that much time to think," said Officer Damian Castro. "All I could think was try to get this man to safety, didn't really want to look back to see how far the train was coming, you could hear it coming," he said.
"It's pretty surreal," said Sgt. Joseph Cavestany, after looking at all of the video of the rescue.
Where are we at on the priority wait list right now for "brakes on trains"? Like actual functioning ones that can stop a train faster than 15 minutes. I feel like we've all just kind of weirdly accepted that no matter what technology we come up with, trains will always and forever be forced to drive full speed into anything in their path while the conductor just pulls the "Choo Choo!" string over and over.
And is that before or after "airplane parachutes"?