(T-G Photo by David Melson) [Order this photo]
"They were fortunate to survive that crash," airport manager Hank Williamson said. "Skill and cunning got them through it."
The occupants, flight instructor Charles Allen Crossley, 27, of Eagleville, and student Gerald Norton were practicing landings at the airport about 5:15 p.m., Officer Bruce Davis of the Shelbyville Police Department said, when the plane's engine lost power.
(Wings of Eagles School of Flight photo)
Norton was bleeding from what Williamson said appeared to be a fractured ankle suffered when it struck the side of the cockpit upon impact. He was taken across U.S. 231 North to Heritage Medical Center by ambulance complaining of back pain, Davis said.
Norton "had a problem with his leg" and Crossley is "fine," said Paul Davis, lead instructor at Wings of Eagles School of Flight, of Smyrna, which owns the plane and employs Crossley. Paul Davis would not release further details on Norton. Police did not obtain any information on Norton except that he is in his 50s.
Crossley told officers he was going to be checked at the hospital.
"They were flying a grid pattern, practicing touch-and-go landings," Bruce Davis said. "They stopped and went through a complete run-through before taking off again heading north."
"The pilot told me the plane was doing practice patterns. On one of them he said he seemed to lose power," Williamson said.
"After they became airborne the engine started losing power," Bruce Davis said. "Crossley asked the student if he had done anything to the controls to make it lose power and he said he hadn't. He (Crossley) tried to take over the controls and get it back down."
"The pilot said he checked the fuel switches and mixture and all were properly set," Williamson said. "He was over one end of the runway and decided to try to make it back to the runway but didn't have enough speed.
"He thought he was high enough to possibly make it back but didn't."
The plane was about 100 feet above the runway before the crash, Williamson said.
"They apparently hit nose first," Williamson said. "Much of the damage was to the front end. There were a lot of propeller splinters around where it first hit."
The plane slid to a stop just to the northwest of the runway behind the Jabiru USA aircraft firm. The tail of the plane was broken off by the impact.
An employee of Jabiru witnessed the crash, Williamson said. A Jabiru spokesperson said Monday the witness would not comment until the FAA investigation is complete.
"There's nothing we know right now," said Paul Davis, when asked about possible causes of the plane's engine failure. He also said he would not comment further.
The school owns the 2000 Diamond DA20-C1 fixed-wing single engine, dual-control plane, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The plane's composite airframe is constructed of "probably fiberglass and some aluminum and polished steel," Williamson said.