EMORY, TX (KLTV) - Authorities say 80-year-old John Armstrong was attempting to land his plane on a private airstrip near Emory Tuesday when the plane clipped the top of a tree. Investigators say the single engine plane then spun off the tree and immediately caught on fire when it hit the ground.
John Armstrong was the owner of First National Bank in Emory and a member of Lake Fork Baptist Church in Alba.
A charred skeleton of an airplane marks the spot where John Armstrong was killed. Friends say he was returning from a day trip to Oklahoma, where he picked up Christmas gifts.
"He picked up a bunch of peanuts and was going to give those to friends for Christmas. In fact, I remember the box he gave me last year at Christmas time," the pastor of Lake Fork Baptist Church Perry Crisp said.
Crisp says the husband and father of two was always thinking about others.
"He had a reputation in Emory and Alba and all around this area for being an honest, down-to-earth man who just enjoyed life and loved people," Crisp said.
"He was very sharp, mentally, physically, I never looked at him as an 80 year old man. He just seemed much younger," First National Bank Vice President David Gowin said.
Gowin worked with Armstrong and said he was a trustworthy businessman, passionate about life and airplanes.
"He used to fly a lot, and I think he had stopped for many years," Gowin said.
"He just renewed his pilots license and was extremely excited about it, just like a kid getting a new toy. He would love to fly on a whim and was very good at it," Crisp said.
Armstrong's plane went down on a private airstrip owned by his daughter and son-in-law who also flies planes.
"I'd like to think he just took a longer flight than any of us had planned on him taking right now. He went on to being with the Lord in Heaven," Crisp said.
A funeral service will be held for Armstrong on Saturday at 1pm at Lake Fork Baptist Church in Alba.