Two people were on board the single-engine plane that crashed near the Triple W Industrial Airport in Fuquay-Varina.
Pilot James Downard, 62, was making his approach to the Triple W landing strip when the plane went down in a heavily-wooded area about a half mile from the airport.
Downard called the tower at RDU International by cell phone to report the plane went down.
The conversation was relayed to WRAL's Sky 5, which communicated with a Highway Patrol helicopter. Sky 5 was able to locate the wreckage by air.
On the ground, it took rescue crews and volunteers about an hour to locate the wreckage, which was about 500 yards back into the woods. Their efforts were hampened by the woods and high underbrush.
Jack Cotten, a 12-year-old who lives nearby, helped find the plane and passengers on his ATV after hearing about the crash on the news.
"He's our hero today," said Capt. Danny Murdock of the Fuquay-Varina Fire Department. "We're really proud of him to come up here. He drove that thing perfectly and got her out. That helped probably save another half an hour getting her out on that thing."
Marilyn Downard, 64, was pinned in the wreckage and suffered cuts and a broken arm. She is listed in good condition at WakeMed.
Her husband walked away from the wreckage with cuts on his face and arms. He was treated and released.
An investigation is under way, but there is no word on what caused the plane to crash.