Plane crashes into cow, pilot survives

Published: Jun. 23, 2009 at 9:04 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2009 at 5:28 PM CDT
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By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) - East Texas pilot experienced some terrifying moments Tuesday morning after he crashed his plane into a cow near an airport. 65-year-old Johnny Hearon was trying to land his Cessna 150 at Mineola's Wisener Airfield around 10. But witnesses say the plane stalled, spun out, and crashed in a nearby pond.

The FAA checked out the scene of the crash. Witnesses say it was simply a case of an inexperienced pilot flying an aircraft he was unfamiliar with.

"The man made a mistake," said Billy Ragain, an aircraft mechanic. "A large one."

Ragain was in a hanger working on an airplane when he saw Johnny Hearon try to land his plane.

"He was really erratic, and not doing the best approach in the world," said Ragain. "He was unfamiliar with the airplane. He just bought it."

Hearon initially tried to land twice. But, witnesses say because he didn't have the right speed he turned back around and tried a third time.

"[The] third time he got it on the ground and he thought he was too fast," said Ragain. "So, he tried to take off again. When he took off, he made a real sharp turn, and when he did, the airplane fell out of the sky."

Hearon crashed in a pond. On the way down, he landed on top of a cow, killing her instantly.

"I have been working here for 20 years, approximately, and this is the first one that I've actually had to investigate," said Paul Noble. "So, it's very rare."

Investigators say Hearon was just taking the plane out for a spin.

"He left here at this point, not going anywhere in particular," said Noble. "[He was] just flying around the airport, and so he left here and then was trying to return here."

Airport officials say the weather conditions may have played a role the crash.

"Relevant in flying, you have a density altitude that makes the air thinner," said Robert Wisener. "And, the plane doesn't perform quite as well whenever it's hotter."

But, those who know Hearon say he was just too inexperienced to fly his aircraft alone.

"I really hate to say this, but the man had 22 hours in 1981, and that was the last flying experience we know of," said Ragain. "It was just a bad situation."

Investigators say Johnny Hearon was airlifted to ETMC in Tyler. They say he is being treated for a broken leg and minor cuts and bruises to the head.

The only fatality was the cow.

There has been no word yet on what caused the plane to stall, but the FAA says they will be looking for any possible mechanical reason that may have caused the plane to crash.

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