Man downs craft in Oxford front yard, avoids serious injury
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.
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.