Here’s how the drama unfolded. Lynn Bjorklund, 40, and her brother, Eric, 45, were beginning the second day of a backpacking trip in the 11,500-foot mountains of the rugged Pecos Wilderness area northeast of Santa Fe. Both were still sleeping in their tents when they heard a plane pass close overhead. Too close.

“It didn’t sound very good,” says Lynn, a reclamation specialist for the Bureau of Land Management, “and a moment later, we heard it hit the ground twice, followed by a huge explosion. I peeked out of my tent and saw the plane totally on fire just a couple hundred yards away. I couldn’t imagine that anyone could have survived the crash.”

And Bjorklund would know. An experienced search-and-rescue worker, she had recovered bodies before. That’s exactly what she thought she would be doing this time.

After pulling on boots and grabbing a first-aid kit, she and Eric ran down to the crash site. There they found, much to their amazement, that both the pilot and the passenger were still alive. Before the plane exploded, the pilot …

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