Pittsboro man is OK following plane crash

Feb. 27, 2013 @ 07:12 PM

Given that no one was injured in a plane crash in northern Lee County late Wednesday afternoon, after the plane reportedly lost power and its pilot flew underneath some power lines but above several large poles in the ground, responders at the scene said the outcome was about as good a scenario as could be hoped for.

"It turned out well considering what could've happened," Brad Womble, director of the Raleigh Executive Jetport at Sanford-Lee County Airport, said of the first crash that has occurred during his short time in charge of the operation.

The plane came down in an empty field on Ammons Farm Road. And although Joel Ammons said it's the second time something has fallen out of the sky and crashed into this particular field — the previous incident involved a hot air balloon a few years ago, he said — he's not quite ready to call his farm the Bermuda Triangle of Sanford just yet.

Pittsboro resident Ray Kelley, who was flying the plane in question — a Cherokee 6 single-propeller plane with fixed landing gear — said he was coming in to Sanford from Siler City to get some avionics work done. But none of the repairs he needed, he said, appeared to be behind the cause of the power failure. He didn't go into further detail, citing upcoming investigations by his insurance company and the Federal Aviation Administration, although he did say the plane is totaled due to a crack between the fuselage and one of the wings.

"I lost power, but I couldn't get to the runway," said Kelley, a former candidate for the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners. The field where he crashed is a little more than a mile from the southern edge of the airport.

Kelley was the only person in the plane. Although he narrowly avoided the power lines, crashed through a fence and bounced several times before losing a wheel and sliding downhill to a stop just before the tree line, he walked away uninjured. Some horses were in a field on the other side of the street, but the field he hit was empty at the time.

Shane Seagroves, Director of Emergency Management for Lee County, said there was a small hazardous material spill that had to be addressed — about half a gallon of fuel that spurted out before the plane's automatic cutoff system kicked in — but that he doesn't think it will be a danger to the farm or the local environment.