Pilot jumps to safety as plane drops

Craft registered in Atlanta was Augusta bound

  • Follow Metro

Forrest Cothron was in the woods Thursday evening when he heard a peculiar noise.

Wreckage litters the ground after a plane smashed into a Burke County clearing. The pilot bailed out before the Thursday night crash, and walked to a road. The pilot's name was not released.  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Wreckage litters the ground after a plane smashed into a Burke County clearing. The pilot bailed out before the Thursday night crash, and walked to a road. The pilot's name was not released.

He thought at first it was a tractor coming through the wide clearing he was staking out in hopes of spotting a deer.

Then he realized the sound was coming from the sky.

"It was kind of a sputter," said Cothron, 23.

He looked up to see a falling plane headed straight for the meadow where he was standing in rural Burke County, near Waynesboro. The pilot bailed out just before the plane smashed into the clearing with a boom other hunters in the area compared to a bomb explosion.

With his ears still ringing, Cothron cautiously approached the wreckage. There was very little smoke or flame, but he was still leery of an explosion.

Cothron couldn't see the pilot, who authorities say parachuted to safety and walked to the nearest road to get help. The pilot, who was not named Wednesday evening, declined medical treatment for the crash, which happened about 7:15 p.m. on private property off Saxon Road, about two miles west of state Highway 23.

Official facts were few Thursday evening.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration, said the single-engine Aero Commander was headed to Augusta Regional Airport, but its starting point was unknown.

The aircraft is registered to Kalunji Aviation Group in Atlanta, according to the FAA.

About 8:45 p.m., there were still a few first responders lingering around the scene of the crash, along with the medical helicopter that located the debris.

Tall trees surrounding the meadow blocked out most of the moonlight, but it was still possible to make out the bits and pieces of aircraft that littered the area. One piece of debris was wrapped around a pine tree about 20 feet in the air.

The bulk of the wreckage was a mangled ball of seats, tires and propeller.

Cothron said the plane hit the ground directly and did very little skidding or sliding.

Comments (43) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
AutumnLeaves
9434
Points
AutumnLeaves 10/21/10 - 07:00 pm
0
0
Praying....

Praying....

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/21/10 - 07:26 pm
0
0
Yikes, that's not too far

Yikes, that's not too far from my house. I wonder if CAP was dispatched?

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 10/21/10 - 08:08 pm
0
0
Do all pilots wear

Do all pilots wear parachutes? I'm just curious; I know nothing about flying.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/21/10 - 08:11 pm
0
0
I think its pretty rare. Its

I think its pretty rare. Its never good when you have more take offs than landings...

Batman
18
Points
Batman 10/21/10 - 08:12 pm
0
0
I don't wear a parachute and

I don't wear a parachute and neither do any other local pilots that I know unless they're involved in aerobatics.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 10/21/10 - 08:31 pm
0
0
4000 hours of single engine

4000 hours of single engine time and never once have I even touched a parachute. At least he wasn't pulling a stunt like the Indy investment banker who tried to fake his death by parachuting out of his plane over Alabama and sending it on toward the Gulf of Mexico. Glad the pilot is okay and that the plane didn't strike any homes. It was 27 years ago this week that a National Guard pilot ejected from his plane in Indy and it slammed into a hotel near the airport, setting it aflame and killing many people.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 10/21/10 - 08:31 pm
0
0
Sorry, 23 years ago this

Sorry, 23 years ago this week. It was in 1987.

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 10/21/10 - 08:38 pm
0
0
He could have been heading

He could have been heading for the Savannah River, he wasn't but just a few miles away.

usafvet
3
Points
usafvet 10/21/10 - 09:17 pm
0
0
I heard the engine misfire to

I heard the engine misfire to the point it sounded as if it stopped and restarted. This was just inside Burke County over Hwy 25. My girl friend, my son and I were watching the fish in our pond feeding when we heard the engine sputter. As I am a pilot and plane owner we always watch plane activity. Don't know about the parachute. Never had one in my plane. Interesting, but I for one am very happy that the pilot walked away.

Little Lamb
47847
Points
Little Lamb 10/21/10 - 09:29 pm
0
0
TaylorB wrote: It’s never

TaylorB wrote:

It’s never good when you have more take offs than landings. . . .

I always figured that one has exactly the same number of take offs and landings.

micbare
18
Points
micbare 10/21/10 - 11:30 pm
0
0
There is something fishy

There is something fishy about this story. I have a little bit of time in a small plane. Pilots don`t normally wear chutes. There is not room for them.
This story sounds really weird. It will be interesting see the final report on this one.

augusta citizen
9907
Points
augusta citizen 10/22/10 - 05:43 am
0
0
I thought it sounded weird

I thought it sounded weird too. I know nothing about flying but have many friends who are pilots and they don't have parachutes. He must have walked away pretty quickly since someone who saw the crash went right over and he wasn't around. You would think someone would go look at their plane before they beat feet. Especially since he obviously wasn't seeking medical assistance.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/22/10 - 06:46 am
0
0
@LL, I mean, present at the

@LL, I mean, present at the time of takeoff and landing.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 10/22/10 - 07:00 am
0
0
Thank you all for the answer

Thank you all for the answer to my question. It seemed odd to me in a civilian plane. And why decline medical attention? I would think that insurance reasons would require some blood work and medical check-up. Don't get me wrong, I am very glad he walked away unhurt and that no one on the ground was injured. It is usually a much sadder story.

Riverman1
89984
Points
Riverman1 10/22/10 - 07:03 am
0
0
Taylor, you shouldn't have

Taylor, you shouldn't have explained it to LL. Haha. Smart as she is, she missed that one.

peonynut
2
Points
peonynut 10/22/10 - 07:14 am
0
0
If he was headed for SRS how

If he was headed for SRS how long would it have taken the jets to scramble?

augusta citizen
9907
Points
augusta citizen 10/22/10 - 07:19 am
0
0
Surely some sort of

Surely some sort of questioning, etc. would be required for the pilot in a case like this. From ensuring that he wasn't a terrorist or drug runner, to making sure he wasn't under the influence.

seabeau
33
Points
seabeau 10/22/10 - 07:23 am
0
0
Recently on a South Carolina

Recently on a South Carolina beach, a jogger was killed when a light plane in distress struck him. Do the pilots have NO responsibility in ensuring that their plane in landing,crashing or otherwise do so in a manner that prevents others on the ground from being involved. After all they were not forced to fly. Years ago a military pilot would fly a plane into the ground in a safe area rather than risk injuring others on the ground.

Riverman1
89984
Points
Riverman1 10/22/10 - 08:05 am
0
0
I'm not riding in any plane

I'm not riding in any plane with a pilot wearing a parachute.

CabisKhan
164
Points
CabisKhan 10/22/10 - 08:29 am
0
0
Although a bit awkward it was

Although a bit awkward it was a good landing----- he was able to walk away from it.

Riverman1
89984
Points
Riverman1 10/22/10 - 08:31 am
0
0
What was the pilot's name?

What was the pilot's name? The AC is pulling comments concerning possible motives it appears. Something is not right.

belle
309
Points
belle 10/22/10 - 08:37 am
0
0
peonynut...keep in mind this
Unpublished

peonynut...keep in mind this occurred in Burke County...while SRS is directly across the river, Vogtle is right there and a plane crash there would also be devastating.

Sean Moores
906
Points
Sean Moores 10/22/10 - 08:45 am
0
0
Riverman, I have no idea what

Riverman, I have no idea what the pilot's name is. I am leaving up comments saying it is suspicious that he had a parachute, even though I don't know if it is suspicious or not, but I can't allow people to make accusations or insinuate that they are pulling an insurance scam unless the police have filed charges or implicated them in some way.
If you were a pilot who crashed your plane, you wouldn't want people accusing you of a crime on a public forum, and you might want to sue over it.
Regardless, I'm not allowing it.

Grace422
239
Points
Grace422 10/22/10 - 08:54 am
0
0
The news this morning stated

The news this morning stated his name was Barrington Something out of Conyers GA. They stated he flew out of an ATL airport maybe Charlie Brown not sure, to Columbia SC - He seems to have been a little of track considering he flew of out an airport to our northwest heading east and crash south of us.

usafvet
3
Points
usafvet 10/22/10 - 08:56 am
0
0
Good move Sean. And Belle if

Good move Sean. And Belle if it will ease your mind any, the only devastation that small plane would do to Vogtle would be minimal. The community would not be endangered at all. Vogtle was designed to protect the surroundings, the community, and its inhabitants.

Little Lamb
47847
Points
Little Lamb 10/22/10 - 08:57 am
0
0
belle wrote: Vogtle is right

belle wrote:

Vogtle is right there and a plane crash there would also be devastating.

That little tin can of an airplane is not a threat to a well-built industrial facility.

Riverman1
89984
Points
Riverman1 10/22/10 - 09:10 am
0
0
Speaking for myself and the

Speaking for myself and the posters who wondered about many aspects of this incident, there is a difference in conjecture and accusing someone of committing a crime. We will see how all this plays out. Again, something is not right.

Sean, as the evidence begins to mount, let us know when we can get on the facts surrounding this crash again.

Riverman1
89984
Points
Riverman1 10/22/10 - 09:11 am
0
0
Kalunji Aviation Group is a

Kalunji Aviation Group is a fairly large company based in Atlanta with all types of aircraft, some very large. You are telling me their pilots wear or even carry parachutes in their planes?

jeff1688
0
Points
jeff1688 10/22/10 - 09:18 am
0
0
To help clear up some peoples

To help clear up some peoples concerns. I was flying at the time when the pilot was speaking to ATC and listened to about an hour of there conversation until i was out range and could not hear any longer. He lost the ability to control his elevator which is what pitches the airplane up and down. He was only using power settings to help control the airplane. He made many attempts to land the airplane at the Augusta Regional Airport but was unable to do so. He was very nervous on the radio the whole time. I dont think anyone who is a terrorist would speak to ATC and attempt to land at an airport. Im not sure why he had an parachute on board but who knows. Theres a couple of reasons why he might of. But in any case I think by listening to him this was crash was due to a malfunction of his aircraft because he did what he could to land and was unable so thats why he bailed out. I do agree he is responsible for what happens after he bails out and is very lucky he didnt kill anyone on the ground. I do believe he picked that spot because it was a rural area. So lets all be thankful it worked out in the end. Thanks for your time.

Riverman1
89984
Points
Riverman1 10/22/10 - 09:25 am
0
0
Jeff1688, welcome to the AC.

Jeff1688, welcome to the AC. Good info. I never thought he was a terrorist. So he was apparently communicating with Augusta Regional for an hour before the crash. They should know if he told them he had a parachute and was going to bail out. Easy enough to find an answer.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Venue change sought in Aiken police slaying

Judge Clifton Newman told attorneys for Stephon Carter that a motion to move the venue or select jurors outside Aiken County was premature. Carter is accused of killing Public Safety Officer ...
Search Augusta jobs