A local commercial airline pilot pulled the man from the burning plane which “probably saved his life,” the sheriff said.
By Bailey Husker, Action News Jax
FOLKSTON, Ga. — An 82-year-old pilot is in serious condition after crashing a small single-engine plane Tuesday evening in Folkston, the Charlton County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Robert Phillips tells Action News Jax that the pilot missed the runway, struck a support pole with a high-tension line, and burst into flames, crashing onto the west side of Highway 121 just near the Davis Field Airport in Folkston.
Mike Robinson, a local commercial airline pilot, and his wife pulled the man from the burning plane, which “probably saved his life,” the sheriff said.
Robinson said the rescue was scary, but he had to do it.
“There were flames around his legs and such … You’re scared everything’s gonna blow up around you too, but you gotta get the guy out.”
According to Phillips, the pilot was “conscious, but not alert” when he was life-flighted to UF Health Jacksonville.
The sheriff’s brother is also a pilot and he saw the plane was “in trouble” before it crashed. He called the Robinsons who live at the airport and alerted them of the distressed plane, which prompted them to run outside and rescue the 82-year-old.
Robinson spoke with Action News Jax Stephanie Bennet after the crash. He said he saw fuel in the tank and does not think a fuel issue caused the crash.
It is unknown what caused the crash, however, Robinson says the runway lights at the airport were inoperative.
“He could’ve got to the runway if the lights were on, but they’re not working,” he said.
Robinson went on to say, “It is like flying in a bottle of black ink, there’s no lights around on the ground, and he’s a VFR pilot, meaning visual flight rules, and 82-years-old.”
The sheriff said an investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration will be at the crash site at 8 a.m. Wednesday to conduct an investigation.