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Plane Forced To Test Water Wings Craft Puts Down In Snake River After Failing To Gain Altitude

Sun., June 4, 1995

After buzzing over trucks and under power lines, a small experimental amphibious airplane made an emergency landing in the Snake River.

Engine trouble forced down the Arrow Avid Amphibian flown by Richard Gilbert of Renton, Wash., on Friday morning shortly after it took off from the Burley Municipal Airport.

The airplane never got more than 100 feet off the ground, Gilbert said.

“I kept thinking we’re going to get some altitude, but we never did,” Gilbert said after maneuvering the plane to a boat launch near the Burley Municipal Golf Course.

Gilbert had to fly between light poles on the Burley-Heyburn bridge. He said he never came close to crashing, but could not get any lift from the 100-horsepower engine.

The Cassia County Sheriff’s Department responded to the report of a downed plane in the Snake River at 9:30 a.m.

Gilbert flew into Burley on Thursday night en route to northern Washington. Airplane owner Dave Perdew had to take a bus from east of the Rocky Mountains to Burley because the plane could not handle the additional weight at extreme altitudes.

Their journey began on Sunday in Wichita, Kan., where Perdew bought the Boise-built plane.

The 25-foot, single-engine, rear-prop plane has a range of 400 miles and top speed of 80 mph. He said he would tow the plane on a trailer to Boise and try to fix it there.

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