Pilot Is 'Critical'
BY LAUREN HENRY
CHUCKEY -- An experimental aircraft crashed on takeoff Thursday afternoon at Hensley Airpark on Skyway Drive off Chuckey Pike.
According to airstrip owner Ted Hensley, two men were injured in the crash.
Transported to Johnson City Medical Center were pilot Jack Cooper and passenger Marc Bravo, both residents of the airport community.
Cooper, of Kitty Hawk Road, was listed this morning in critical condition in intensive care with stable vital signs and on medicated rest, according to a Mountain States Health spokesperson.
Robert Sayne, director of Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services (EMS), said that Cooper suffered severe spinal injuries.
Bravo, of Mitchell Road, was released from the hospital last night with minor injuries, his wife told The Greeneville Sun this morning.
"We are just thankful he is alive," she said.
A witness to the crash, Donnie Shipley, told the Sun that the pilot was heading south on the runway, but was unable to get off the ground.
"He turned around and came back up the runway and when he did, it was like he was out of control and nose-dived into the ground about 300 feet in front of us," Shipley said.
The plane was barely four feet off the ground before it crashed, he said.
Shipley said Bravo climbed out of the plane after the crash, but Cooper, who owns the plane, was complaining of no feeling below his chest.
Shipley and Bravo decided to leave Cooper strapped in the plane until Emergency Medical Service staff arrived 30 minutes later.
Shipley, with C.K. Supplies, is not a resident of the airpark but was at a nearby house delivering building supplies at the time of the crash.
Bravo, a flight instructor, told Shipley that he took control of the plane during the last three seconds of flight to avoid hitting a nearby house.
The aircraft crashed on the left of the runway in a field, Greene County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Stewart said he was told.
Debris was scattered across the field, and the front end of the plane was torn from the fuselage. The front engine lay a few feet from the plane.
"We've never had anything serious before," said resident Virginia Merrill.
Responding to the scene were Greene County-Greeneville EMS, the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department, Limestone Volunteer Fire Department, and the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Sayne said.