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Pilot flips plane into Columbia River

Washington pilot uninjured following 'touch-and-go' practice near Rainier
by: Stover E. Harger III Fishermen boat past Cottonwood Island across from Prescott Beach an hour after a Washington pilot mistakenly flipped his small plane (background) during a

A Washington pilot was uninjured after his small plane flipped over while practicing a flight maneuver on the Columbia River last week.

On April 13, 44-year-old Lon James Habersetzer of Yacolt, Wash., was flying alone in a four-seat plane while performing 'touch-and-goes' on Cottonwood Island, across the river from Prescott, Ore.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports that Habersetzer's Piper Super Cub plane - specially designed with large rubber tires to land on a variety of surfaces, including beaches - flipped over as the pilot skimmed the river.

Habersetzer was rescued by boat, and his plane was pulled to shore. An FAA official said it's unclear at this time how much damage was done to the plane.

A group of fishermen on Prescott Beach that afternoon said they saw the whole thing. Bill Coverdell, 33, from St. Helens, believes he has spotted Habersetzer's plane successfully performing the landing and take-off maneuver many times in the past.

'I guess this time he wasn't successful,' Coverdell said.

Through binoculars, a man presumed to be Habersetzer was spotted pacing up and down the beach after emergency rescuers left the scene.

'We're just really happy that the pilot wasn't injured,' said Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson in a prepared statement. 'Obviously, the Lord was watching over this gentleman.'

As with other plane crashes, the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.

Habersetzer reportedly trains other Super Cub pilots how to perform non-runway takeoffs and landings.

"We get a couple of these per year, it seems," Nelson said. "This is a form of recreation for these pilots, but when one flips over, it certainly gets folks excited."