By Buster Thompson Chronicle Reporter

A pilot is OK after his plane crashed while landing at the Crystal River Airport.

First responders were dispatched at around 12:35 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, to the airport on the corner of U.S. 19 and West Venable Road, where a single-engine Piper Aircraft plane was found resting nose down on the airport’s turf runway.

According to Citrus County Fire Rescue, the plane’s pilot and sole occupant was uninjured.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Tammy Jones said the FAA will investigate. Jones said preliminary findings show the nose gear of the 2016 Piper PA-46 collapsed after the plane landed.

Crystal Motorsports LLC, out of Homosassa, is the plane’s registered owner, according to the FAA registry.

Steve Lamb, president and manager of Crystal Motorsports, said he was notified of the incident when he was doing his annual training in Vero Beach to fly the plane.

“I’m heartbroken,” he said. “Number one, nobody got hurt.”

Lamb said the pilot, who has 22,000 hours of flight experience with 11,000 hours flying fixed-wing aircraft, was returning to Crystal River after he flew passengers to Atlanta.

“He is one hell of a pilot; he’s very accomplished,” Lamb said. “That’s why they call them ‘accidents.’”

Crystal River Airport’s main runway – a 4,555-foot-long asphalt strip – closed Monday for 28 days to undergo improvement work, leaving the airport’s 2,665-foot turf runway operational, according to Citrus County government.

Lamb said his plane’s pilot was battling a crosswind during the landing before the aircraft’s nose went down.

“I feel terrible for him,” Lamb said, noting the pilot will continue to fly his aircraft.