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Pilot Speaks About Storm-Related Plane Crash In Chapel Hill

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CHAPEL HILL — TheFederal Aviation Administrationsays a microburst brought down a Piper Cherokee Warrior and its two occupants near the Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill during Thursday morning's storm.

The pilot, 38-year-old Richard Monroe Binkley, says weather reports showed the storm would not arrive until later.

"We had a clear path to Chapel Hill," Binkley says in a phone interview from his hospital bed. "Of course in hindsight, we know this storm was moving much more rapidly than anything you're going to see."

Binkley says he saw the dark clouds but was still well ahead of the storm front. The plane was just 300 feet in the air and was about to land when the microburst hit and rolled the plane hard to the left.

"You're so busy assessing the situation and doing what you can to recover that you don't have time for your life to flash before your eyes," Binkley says.

Binkley suffered second-degree burns on his arms and face. He will be released fromUNC Hospitalsthis weekend.

Bill Ladd, the student pilot who was riding with Binkley, had a broken arm and will probably be released next week.