Crash Course

What does it mean when your plane falls out of the sky? Two survivors explore the impact

On the morning of Feb. 19, 1979, a Cessna 172 took off from Santa Monica, Calif., bound for the ski resort Big Bear. On board were Norman Ollestad, his father, his father's girlfriend Sandra and the pilot. Crossing the San Gabriel Mountains in heavy gray snow clouds, the plane failed to clear Ontario Peak. It crashed into the mountain at 8,200 ft. (2,500 m), just short of the summit, in the middle of a blizzard. Norman and Sandra survived the initial impact, but only Norman made it down off the mountain. He was 11.

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