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Pilot Was Just 10 Feet From a Soft Landing

March 31, 1985

A 54-year-old Newhall pilot said Saturday that he needed "just 10 more lousy feet" and he would have cleared a Foothill Freeway overpass in Sylmar with his crippled airplane and made a soft landing in a nearby field.

Instead, Wieslaw Jan Checinski's single-engine Cessna 150 clipped a power line, smashed into the side of the freeway overpass at Glenoaks Boulevard and dropped 30 feet to the ground.

Checinski, who was alone in the two-seater plane, walked away uninjured.

There were no cars or pedestrians at the intersection when the crash occurred at 5:30 p.m., Los Angeles police Lt. John McCrillis said.

The plane, which Checinski bought two weeks ago for $6,000, is good only for salvage now, with both wings and the tail section twisted beyond repair, the pilot said.

Checinski, an electronics engineer who said he has a student pilot's license, was en route from Santa Maria to Whiteman Airpark in Pacoima when his engine quit while flying over Newhall.

"Why it quit, I have no idea," he said. "But I'm going to go to church tomorrow."

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