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Pilot unhurt in Sanford plane crash

Posted February 27, 2013

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— A plane crashed Wednesday afternoon in a field on Rod Sullivan Road in Sanford, authorities said.

Pilot Ray Kelley wasn't injured when his Piper PA 32 plane went down shortly before 4 p.m. He was the only one on board. 

"Anytime you can walk away from a plane crash, you're lucky to be alive," he said.

Kelley said he took off from Siler City for a short flight to Sanford Lee County airport to have some maintenance done on the aircraft. Minutes before landing, he said he noticed an "odd phenomenon."

"I had too much power that the plane would not allow itself to land, but not enough to stay in flight," he said.  

He quickly considered his landing options.

"I declared an emergency, and made a decision I would land in the cow pasture," Kelley said. "(The plane) actually still would not get down in the cow pasture, so I made a right-hand turn and ended up what it's at."

Ray Kelley Pilot says he's lucky to walk away from Sanford plane crash

The plane came to rest in a hay field on Ammons Farm, a couple miles from the airport.

"He came under the power lines, hit the edge of the field, hopped across the road, took down both fence lines across the hill until it came to rest on the bottom," said Joel Ammons of Ammons Farm. 

Kelley said the recent rain helped keep him safe.

"It soaked the ground," he said. "The wheels dug in really well and made good traction, and slowed me down even more. So, it was good."

Kelley said he's been flying since 2008, but likely take some time before getting back into the cockpit.

"I was offered a ride in an airplane back to Siler City," he said. "I turned it down."

8 Comments

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  • Lightfoot3 Mar 1, 11:35 a.m.

    "And when something bad happens................!" - mac240


    It's ignored, or blamed on the devil. :)

  • zonk Feb 28, 3:45 p.m.

    mac240 God does not promise bad things will not happen for anyone.

  • mac240 Feb 28, 10:55 a.m.

    "When things like this happen luck has nothing to do with it. It's by the Grace of God he was safe believe it."NCC.

    And when something bad happens................!

  • North Carolina Cutie Feb 28, 10:37 a.m.

    When things like this happen luck has nothing to do with it. It's by the Grace of God he was safe believe it.

  • carolinaflyboy72 Feb 28, 10:05 a.m.

    I'm glad nobody was hurt. As a pilot, I have so many questions about this. This appears to be a Piper Cherokee Six, which has 300 horsepower. With only the one person on board, there would be an abundance of power to easily climb out of a bad approach. If the pilot had too much power to land, then why did he not reduce the power? If there was not enough power to climb, then why did he not add power? There must be more to this story, because this doesn't add up. There is no such "odd phenominon" that I am aware of without a broken throttle cable, or similar mechanical issue.

  • mac240 Feb 28, 9:02 a.m.

    He needed maintenance on his plane, I guess he wanted to make the trip worthwhile!

  • Lightfoot3 Feb 28, 8:26 a.m.

    "I had too much power that the plane would not allow itself to land, but not enough to stay in flight," - article


    What does this mean? Is this a variable pitch plane? If not, I'm wondering if that old nemesis carb-icing got him.

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 27, 7:51 p.m.

    Cool head and lucky works.