By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
It's not often that two planes crash in Kern County on the same day in different locations.
But it happened Saturday. And as bad as it sounds, it could have been much worse.
Two men in a light, homemade aircraft walked away from a crash in the early afternoon after the plane they were flying in lost power and took out a set of electrical lines southwest of Bakersfield.
Units from the Kern County Fire Department, California Highway Patrol and Kern County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a plane down near Bear Mountain Boulevard, about one-quarter mile east of Old River Road.
At the scene, a long section of power lines had been pulled loose and yanked some 60 feet south into a corn field. Hours after the crash the plane was still in the corn field, but was not visible from the road.
The two men on board -- 56-year-old John Madonna, of San Luis Obispo and 42-year-old Shilo Staib, of Bakersfield -- managed to get out before the plane caught fire, said Kern fire department spokesman Leland Davis. One of the men complained of shoulder pain, but declined medical transport, he said.
Davis said the accident knocked out power to about 400 residents of the sparsely populated farming area. PG&E representatives estimated it could be midnight before power would be restored, Davis said.
Fire crews, wary of the potential dangers of "hot" power lines, were nevertheless able to extinguish the fire, Davis said. The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the crash investigation.
Even as fire crews were mopping up at the scene southwest of Bakersfield, the Kern County Fire Department was called to the scene of a second plane crash near Tehachapi.
Fortunately, it appears neither crash resulted in major injuries or deaths.
Fire department spokesman Davis said it appears a private plane carrying a pilot and two passengers "went nose-in" in a large field behind a house, approximately one mile southwest of Mountain Valley Airport, which is located southeast of Tehachapi's business district.
There was no fire connected to the second crash, and Davis said two of the three men in the plane declined medical transport at the scene. A third man may have suffered a bone fracture, he said.
The names of the men involved in the second crash were not immediately available.
"I've worked on plane crashes before," Davis said Saturday, "but never two in the same day."