Local News

80-year-old pilot killed when small plane crashes in Apex airfield

Posted March 8
Updated March 9

— The pilot of a biplane died Wednesday afternoon in a crash into the private Cox Airfield off U.S. Highway 64 north of Apex.

Apex small plane crash

The North Carolina Highway Patrol identified the pilot Wednesday night as 80-year-old Bruce Clyde Jordan Jr. He was the only person on board the plane at the time of the crash.

According to registry documents, the plane was owned by Jordan, of 6905 Wade Drive in Cary. Troopers said the plane was built from a kit by Jordan in 2009.

Jordan's son said that Jordan was a retired engineer who began his career at NASA before working for the Environmental Protection Agency for many years.

Sgt. Michael Baker, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, said Jordan was coming in for a landing when he clipped a tree and the plane plowed into the ground.

Trooper Robert Maynard said a witness called 911.

"The plane apparently struck a tree and overturned and in doing so, it trapped the pilot," Maynard said.

Weather did not appear to have been a factor. At the time of the crash, just before 4 p.m., skies were clear and winds were gusting to 18 mph.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived on scene Thursday morning and said they'll likely release preliminary results of an investigation into the cause of the crash within the next two weeks.

Maynard said Jordan was not on the radio with any air traffic control personnel before the crash.

"They don't have to, they fly at a level that is not required to have RDU clearance, so he was not on any communication with RDU," he said.

Those who knew Jordan said he was a very experienced pilot, raising questions about what caused the crash. According to the FAA, Jordan was certified as a commercial pilot, mechanic and experimental aircraft builder.

The archive of the National Transportation Safety Board lists one other crash in the history of the Cox Airfield. In December 1982, two aircraft collided in midair after the pilots failed to see one another. No one was killed in that crash.


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  • Tim Orr Mar 9, 1:55 p.m.
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    Sounds like he had a full life and went doing something he loved. I hope I am that lucky. Two things come to mind...the old biker saying...slide into it and yell "what a ride"....and the Klingons yelling at the sky to warn the afterlife another good warrior is on his way!

  • Mike Trekker Mar 9, 11:43 a.m.
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    Without a sense of adventure, George you're already dead:)

  • George Brown Mar 9, 10:13 a.m.
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    These lighter than gravity defiers need a support group, imho.

  • Mike Trekker Mar 9, 9:54 a.m.
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    I am a pilot, and as Native Americans say, "it was a good death." It beats being in a hospital, hospice or nursing home. I would pick this way, over the others mentioned in my last sentence.

  • New Holland Mar 9, 7:57 a.m.
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    experimental aircraft, grass field, calm winds. I've seen 737's land in 2000ft so 2400ft shouldn't be the issue.

  • Jim Dunn Mar 8, 8:43 p.m.
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    Sad. But he died enjoying and doing what he loved. Just a fluke of bad wind, Prayers for the family.

    What is surprising is that 1982 mid air collision with no one killed. Someone was looking out for those.

  • Andy Jackson Mar 8, 6:52 p.m.
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    Indeed, very sad. Praying for this man's family and friends.

  • Janet Ghumri Mar 8, 6:15 p.m.
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    Prayers for the family. So sad