Local News

Plane Crash Will Not Ground Johnston County Family

Posted April 16, 2002

— A late-night landing turned into a terrifying crash for a Johnston County family aboard a private plane Friday night.

However, they said the injuries they received and the memory of the crash is not enough to keep them from taking off again.

The crash happened around 11:30 p.m. Friday in Smithfield, near the Johnston County airport.

Pilot Lonnie Heath reported engine trouble, clipped some power lines, flipped and landed the plane upside down in a field.

The plane, which took off from Charleston, S.C., was just 10 miles from the airport where it was headed when it went down.

"The engine quit and that's when it became a glider," Heath said.

The pilot's two children were also on board the plane.

"That's when I was trying to wake my two children up, telling them 'Get your seat belts on and be prepared for the worst,'" he said.

Heath and his 4-year-old son, Spencer, suffered minor injuries.

Heath's 12-year-old daughter, Victoria, has two broken legs. She is expected to be released from the hospital on Tuesday. Doctors said her recovery should take about six months.

Heath was back in the air on Monday.

"There is nothing else in the world I'd rather do," he said.

Victoria agrees. She said, "I would go flying today if my legs weren't broke."

Heath is a flight instructor at the Johnston County airport.

The FAA was in Johnston County over the weekend investigating the incident.

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