Small plane crashes in Wood County, pilot survives

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

WOOD COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Every pilot's worst fear is crash landing. One north Texas pilot is extremely lucky, after crashing his private plane in East Texas early Thursday morning.

The small plane crashed in a wooded area near the Wood County airport just before five o'clock in the morning.

Investigators with the Quitman Fire Department say the pilot, 36-year-old Michael Thern of Plano may have been gliding at treetop level as he made his approach to the airport.

As Thern was making his approach to Mineola-Quitman Airport he was either out of fuel or suffering engine failure. For whatever reason, many feel that he may have clipped a tree as he was coming in low, and came in 500 yards short of the runway.

Fellow pilots say, it is something every pilot may have to deal with at some time. Crashing.

"You know, it's kind of like driving down the highway," said Vincent Colvin, a pilot and airport official. "If you have a flat, you get out and fix it. You don't have that luxury as a pilot. [Ask yourself,] 'OK where you going to put it?' and you may have top start hunting for a pasture.

Colvin believes Thern did the one thing that every pilot needs to do in an emergency: he stayed cool under pressure.

"Try not to lose you're head," said Colvin.

His plane crashed nose down, spinning the craft around.

"First of all, when I heard that he had walked away from it [I thought,] 'That's wonderful,'" said Colvin.

Thern didn't exactly walk away. He had two broken ankles and dozens of lacerations, but he is alive. Thern remains hospitalized in serious condition.

The FAA is investigating the crash.

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