Danny Dunn, of 3935 Hardin Road, was the pilot of the aircraft and the only one in the plane, according to Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Major Kelly Redmon. Dunn was conscious and alert when he was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist, but did have life-threatening injuries at the time. A Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center spokesperson confirmed the death of Dunn at 9:30 p.m.
Deep Gap Volunteer Fire, Watauga Rescue Squad, Watauga Medics, Watauga County Emergency Management, State Highway Patrol and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 8:57 a.m. 911 call in the 3900 block of Hardin Road, according to Redmon.
Redmon said witnesses stated that the aircraft had taken off from a private airstrip located at Dunn’s address — approximately 100 yards from the crash — about 20 minutes prior to the crash. Witnesses also reported that the plane had circled several times then crashed, Redmon said. The plane caught fire upon impact.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, Dunn has two individual planes listed — a 1973 Aero Commander and a 2005 Allegro 2000. Both aircrafts are fixed-wing single-engine vehicles.
Dunn had crawled free from the wreckage and was located some distance away in a steep area, according to Redmon. Dunn was transported to a makeshift landing zone in Wilkes County to be flown to Wake Forest Baptist.
The N.C. State Highway Patrol was securing the scene. The FAA had arrived on scene around 1:30 p.m.
“Everybody on the scene did a great job. The cooperation between agencies was phenomenal,” Redmon said. “I think the people of Watauga County would be proud of how quick the response was and how well it went.”
Anna Oakes contributed reporting to this story.