Local News

Wind Crashes Ultralight Into Only Tree in Sight

Posted February 19, 2007
Updated February 20, 2007

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— Firefighters using a ladder truck rescued an injured pilot Monday afternoon after strong winds pushed his ultralight aircraft into the only tree in a hayfield and left him 50 feet above the ground with a broken leg.

Justin Schilling, 58, of Vass had taken off at around Noon from Tommy Loving's field near Highway 24/27 and Cranes Creek Road in Moore County..

"He asked me if it was alright to come flying," Loving said. "He went around to the right and he just headed straight toward that tree. He never could get it turned."

Investigators said they believed a strong gust of wind forced the plane into the tree.

The metal framework that holds the pilot's seat landed right-side-up in the branches of the tree with Schilling in his seat. Firefighters said he suffered a broken leg.

"He was quite alert and everything," Cameron Fire Chief Buddy Thompson said. "He told us what pain he had in his leg and all. He was very cooperative."

A ladder truck from Southern Pines brought down Schilling from the tree. Friends of Schilling told WRAL's Bryan Mims that Schilling is a retired Army Ranger with many parachute jumps to his credit.

A helicopter took Schilling to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. A spokeswoman said Schilling was not at the hospital Monday evening.

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  • hollyberry Feb 20, 2007

    I know this man personally. He has more experience doing dangerous and daring work (on the ground and in the air) than 99% of you, I'm sure. He has spent several tours in Iraq and even invented newer, safer body armour for our troops. This was an unfortunate accident. I'm sure his pride was bruised more than his leg. I will be praying for a speedy recovery.

  • MooreMan Feb 20, 2007

    I knew Cameron had a airport but I don't remember that tree.
    I know the people in Cameron land different, But would it be easier if you parked that skinny airplane on a Chicken house ?
    Got to love them Cameron Folks... ( Just joking but so glad he is okay) and just think he got in a helicopter to go to the hospital. I was thinking one bad ride would be bad enough. Don't Cameron have one of them EMS trucks that will crank.

  • Scarecrow Cow Feb 20, 2007

    Oh how awful! What luck, flying into the only tree.
    Praying his leg heals soon.

  • whoknew35 Feb 19, 2007

    Glad he was OK. Could have been much worse. My favorite line was "he was very cooperative". :)

  • ToBar Feb 19, 2007

    Pegisue222, forget George, what about good ole Charlie Brown?

  • Here kitty kitty Feb 19, 2007

    George, George, George of the Jungle, watch out for that..............TREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • stevensstuartharold Feb 19, 2007

    I hope he alright though

  • doughboy Feb 19, 2007


  • flygator Feb 19, 2007

    Hoowah! Rangers lead the way!!! Yeah maybe a couple of bad decisions added up to this. New rules say that all 2 seat ultralights fly under the 6080 exemption as certified flight instructors until Jan 08 or the 4144 Aerotug excemption until Jun 08. Also, all 2 seat or "fat" ultralights must be "N" number by 01Sep07 which in turn makes it a light sport airplane just like the big guys. Today would have been a sweet day all day for me to fly my ultralight. Yeah, I'm an Advanced Flight Instructor in fixed wing and flex wing ultralights/aircraft and a Sport Pilot in above 87 knots. We all get into a tight spot at times. Some of us make it though and some don't. I'm glad this fellow Army Ranger is going to be ok...watch out for that helicoptor bill...its gonna hurt worse!!!

  • New York Yankee Feb 19, 2007

    I airlined home yesterday and man was it bumpy. It was more like the vomit commet since everyone was getting sick. Even today the winds were pretty strong. I personally will not fly my 172 in weather like this. Maybe later on down the road when I have more experience, but not right now. Kinda makes you say...What was he thinking flying on a day like today.