Couple survives fiery, small-plane crash in horse pasture
Posted November 25, 2009 12:36 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2009 10:36 p.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — Sheriff's deputies believe a married couple is lucky to be alive after they put a small plane down for an emergency landing in a horse pasture near the Chatham-Durham county line Wednesday.
"It's absolutely amazing when you show up on the scene, and you say, 'Who was flying the plane?' And the pilot says, 'I was,'" Capt. Roy Allen, with the Chatham County Sheriff's Office, said.
The fixed-wing, single-engine Cessna 170B crash landed in the pasture, off 7691 N.C. Highway 751, south of Seagrove Supply, around noon.
Kent Misegades, who owns the plane, said his friends took off from Cox Airport in Apex, headed to Charlottesville, Va. Shortly after, though, the plane's engine started running roughly, and smoke and flames filled the cockpit.
"There was something wrong with it as low as he was flying,” said Thomas Killett, who saw the plane come down.
"I heard the plane just spitting and sputtering, and then I looked up, and I saw it," said Don Council, who lives nearby. "I could tell he was coming down, and I knew he wasn't going to make it far."
The plane crashed through a fence and caught on fire, officials said.
"That is when the flames came out of it (plane) and it exploded," Killett recalled.
Council said he rushed to the crash site. "By the time I got there, the whole front end of it was flames," he said.
"It's on fire real good," a caller told 911 dispatchers.
Local firefighters put fire-resistant foam on the plane and put out the blaze. Residents gathered up horses in the pasture, and state troopers diverted traffic around the scene.
"We saw the smoke coming up in the field, so we jumped in the car and ran down there to check it out," Kama Williams said.
Williams said the couple on board was walking around when they arrived on the scene.
The couple wasn't injured but their names were withheld, pending an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, Allen added.
Misegades said he was glad to lose his plane and keep his friends.
"He did the right thing. He made the right decision," Misegades said. "An airplane is a chunk of metal. That's what insurance is about."
His friend who was at the plane's controls is an experienced pilot who flew in the Vietnam War and for an airline and now teaches flying lessons, Misegades said.
Allen credited the pair with making a good landing under tough circumstances.
"I think both of them said they were happy to be alive. They are very thankful," Allen said. "This Thanksgiving is going to be extremely special for both of them."