Man downs craft in Ox­ford front yard, avoids se­ri­ous in­jury

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Josh Briggs

A De­catur man landed his small ul­tra-light air­craft in the front yard of an Ox­ford Drive home Satur­day af­ter he sus­pected a prob­lem dur­ing his land­ing ap­proach to Cov­ing­ton Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port.

“I heard a loud pop and we looked up and saw the plane and the para­chute,” eye­wit­ness Robert Le­maire said. “He was a good 200 to 300 feet above the tree line when he started to come in.”

Ac­cord­ing to the 62-year-old­pi­lot, who re­quested to re­main uniden­ti­fied, he heard an un­usual sound in the en­gine while on ap­proach at around 12:30 p.m. Satur­day. The man de­ployed a para­chute and the ul­tra-light landed safely in the front yard of a home in Ox­ford Square sub­di­vi­sion.

“It was just like com­ing down with a para­chute,” he said. “It came in nose first, pretty gen­tle. That alu­minum is re­ally thin so it’s go­ing to bend pretty eas­ily.”

The man, who suf­fered only a lac­er­a­tion on his left hand, said he wasn’t scared and that he went through a check list to shut off the fuel and other sys­tems be­fore the un­sus­pected land­ing.

Res­cue crews re­sponded quickly and were on the scene within min­utes, ac­cord­ing to Le­maire. He said the pi­lot re­mained in­side the air­craft un­til paramedics ar­rived shortly af­ter the in­ci­dent.

A Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion avi­a­tion safety in­spec­tor came out to the site Satur­day af­ter­noon but in­di­cated there prob­a­bly wouldn't be any vi­o­la­tions is­sued since the ve­hi­cle was an ul­tra-light, ac­cord­ing to Ox­ford Po­lice Chief Clark Miller.

Kath­leen Berger, a spokesper­son with the FAA, said peo­ple do not need to be cer­ti­fied pi­lots to fly mo­tored ul­tra-light planes, which

weigh 250 pounds or less and carry five gal­lons of fuel or less.

"We will look into it to de­ter­mine whether the ve­hi­cle was an ul­tra-light and whether it was be­ing op­er­ated prop­erly," she said. Ul­tra-lights are re­quired to stay out of con­trolled air space, must be flown dur­ing day­light hours and can­not op­er­ate over a con­gested area of a city or town, or open-air as­sem­bly of per­sons, ac­cord­ing to Ber­gen.

As for the plane, which was as­sem­bled from a kit, ac­cord­ing to Miller, the land­ing crum­pled the front end and the para­chute be­came tan­gled among power lines.

The pi­lot, who keeps the ul­tra light at Cov­ing­ton Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port, said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to fly the air­craft again.

“I don’t know if it is re­pairable or if I’ll fool with try­ing to re­pair it or not,” the man said. “I’ll have to take a bet­ter look at it when I get it out of here. But it won’t dis­cour­age me from fly­ing.”

Michelle Kim con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Nose dive: (Top) An ul­tra-light air­craft with a crum­pled nose sits on the lawn of a home in the Ox­ford Square sub­di­vi­sion af­ter mak­ing an emer­gency land­ing Satur­day. (Be­low) The air­craft made the emer­gency de­scent aided by a para­chute, which be­came snared in power lines, de­ployed by the pi­lot.

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