Idaho Men Capture Harrowing Plane Crash on Video

PHOTO: Four people in Idaho survived a crash in a vintage single-engine plane.PlayABC News
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Four Idaho men captured every moment of their harrowing plane crash on video, including their collision with the tree tops and the pilot's bloody injuries.

The pilot, Les Gropp, 70, suffered the most serious injuries, mainly to his face, while the other three men suffered minor injuries. All four are expected to recover.

Gropp's son Tol Gropp, 38, was his co-pilot and their friends Nathan Williams, 38, and Alex Arhets, 41, were also in the plane. All four men are from Boise, Idaho.

The group had gone out for a day trip in Les Gropp's vintage single-engine plane near Stanley, Idaho, June 30 when the crash occurred.

For Williams, it was his first time in a small aircraft, which was something he had always wanted to do.

"It was my turn to be in the front seat and I was really excited about that," Williams told

Williams and Arhets had both recently purchased small GoPro video cameras and were videotaping the flight.

When the plane got somewhere between 70 and 100 feet over the tree-line after takeoff, it wouldn't go any higher and began to seem as though it was being pushed down to the earth.

"You could feel it kind of waving down, waving down and the trees just coming up closer and closer to the wings," Arhets said, speaking by phone from Orlando, Fla., where he is celebrating his daughter's high school graduation.

"The pilot said, 'Brace for the trees,' so we turned and then all of a sudden he started hitting the trees, hitting the wings.

"The plane started turning and hit head on, running into the trees and then rolled over and landed on its nose and roof and skidded to a stop."

The video shows angles from two cameras and the front of the plane can be seen crashing into the trees, sending pieces of the tree exploding into the air.

Arhets said that, to him, the crash seemed to happen in slow motion and that he was much calmer that he could have imagined he would be in such a terrifying situation.

"You could see the debris and parts of the windshield and dirt and sticks flying into the cabin," he recalled. "We came to a rest and stopped and everyone was kind of moving their hands and feet and fingers and toes and all asking each other, 'Are you OK?' And everyone was OK."

"OK as far as alive, anyways," Arhets added.

Tol Gropp said that crashing into the trees sounded like "rapid gun fire" and that, for him, the crash happened quickly.

"The next thing I really remember is being on the ground upside down, hanging from our seatbelts," he told

All four men were able to exit the plane through the pilot's door and they assessed their injuries outside the plane.

Les Gropp, Tol Gropp's father, suffered the most serious injuries. The video shows Gropp on the ground with his head propped up on a tree branch with cuts and blood all over his face and arm. He appears to have a deep cut from his mouth across his cheek and towards his neck.

The men, all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gathered some foliage to perform blessings on Gropp and Williams, who seemed to have the most serious injuries.

Within 10 minutes, a couple that had been driving nearby came rushing into the woods, saying they had seen what happened. The couple gave the men the supplies they had and then left to get help.

Soon enough, four retired firefighters, a paramedic, EMTs, trucks from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and a Life Flight helicopter were all on scene.

Les Gropp and Williams were both transported to the hospital via helicopter and Tol Gropp and Arhets rode to the hospital with EMTs.

Les Gropp had 13 metal plates installed throughout his face, but is doing well. Williams suffered a concussion and Arhets and Tol Gropp had minor cuts and bruises.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash and has the plane secured in a storage facility for further examination, the agency said in a preliminary report.

"Loss of control happens because of some pilot error," said Earl Weener, an NTSB board member. "You let the airplane get too slow and you've got the wrong configuration or you haven't got the capability and performance that you need."

The passengers believe the plane experienced a downdraft, a dangerous, vertical movement of air caused by the weather.

Arhets said the men are all amazed to be alive and grateful for all the help they received. He is at Disney World, fully aware of how close he came to missing the celebration.

"I'm ecstatic to be here," he said. "Life takes on a whole new meaning."