BY JOSEPH BUSTOS, REBECCA LIEBSON, CHRIS TRAINOR, AND DAVID TRAVIS BLAND
Columbia emergency personnel responded to a powered glider crash at the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport Thursday midday.
Police said the male pilot was taken to a hospital. He was not entrapped in the plane when it crashed, Columbia Fire Department spokesman Mike DeSumma said.
DeSumma said he couldn’t comment on the pilot’s condition other than he was injured. Investigators have not identified the pilot and his condition wasn’t available as of press time.
He was the only person onboard, DeSumma said. The crash happened at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
The fire department and other emergency responders “did all we could to get him out … and to the hospital,” DeSumma said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. The administration’s agents will determine a cause of the crash.
A man in his 60s was taking off in the powered glider, which was new to him, when he crashed, said Trevor Drayton, a former flight instructor who had been called to the scene.
Emergency personnel have cleared the scene and the glider was sitting on the edge of the runway early Thursday afternoon.
Air traffic controllers initially weren’t aware of the crash until an airplane taxi saw it and told controllers the glider was in the woods.
A powered glider is a plane that carries little fuel and essentially glides when it’s in the air. The plane was intact as it sat on the edge of the runway.
Resident Lethetta Ball lives at an apartment complex next to Owens Field, and said she came home just in time to see the crash.
“It was scary,” Ball said. “My heart is pounding. … My daughters are at home, good thing it didn’t crash into our apartment complex.”
DeSumma addressed the fact that apartments are nearby, saying its horrible that a crash happened but emergency responders were relieved it was confined to the runway.
At 12:53 p.m., the fire department said the scene had been turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration for investigation.
Richland County Councilwoman Allison Terracio is a council liaison to the airport. She said there was “no fire or explosion” connected to the crash. The fire department confirmed that the plane did not catch on fire and little fuel spilled.
“Of course we never want anything bad to happen, but things like this do happen,” Terracio said. “I know though that (county) staff and our emergency responders are taking care of it.”
The Hamilton-Owens Airport borders the southwest side of the Rosewood neighborhood in Columbia. Nearby amenities include the Owens Field park and skate park, City Roots farm and the Hunter-Gatherer Hangar brewery, plus a plethora of residential homes.
This is at least the second time this year there has been a plane crash in the area of the Jim Hamilton – L.B. Owens Airport. In January, a pilot was flying in to the airport on a foggy morning when he missed his approach and crashed into a home in the Rosewood neighborhood, and the plane ultimately burst into flames in a backyard. Greenville pilot Farhad Rostampour died in that January crash. He was 62.