By Buster Thompson Chronicle Reporter

A man was hospitalized with minor injuries after the plane he was landing at the Crystal River Airport flipped over on the runway.

Maria Njoku, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokeswoman, told the Chronicle the single-engine Cessna 172 crashed at around 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, while its pilot and sole occupant tried to land at the airport on the corner of U.S. 19 and West Venable Street.

Cortney Marsh, a spokeswoman for Citrus County Fire Rescue, said Nature Coast EMS transported the man to an area hospital for minor injuries.

Njoku said FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are looking into the incident, with the NTSB taking the lead.

Crystal River Airport officials did not wish to comment.

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jodi Sanders said a 911 call reported the plane having a rough landing, causing it to flip over.

Tony Gainey said he was driving east on West Venable Street, by the airport, when he spotted the blue-and-white plane come in for a landing.

“He wasn’t very high off the pavement at all, and then, all of a sudden, it flipped over on its nose,” said Gainey, a two-tour Vietnam War veteran. “It was just seconds. … It was the first time I’ve seen anything like that … and I’ve seen a lot of stuff.”

Gainey said he watched a man crawl out from the damaged cockpit. 

“He stood there for a minute, and then he took a fall to the pavement,” Gainey said, adding the man remained outstretched on the ground before he got up and collapsed again as first responders were arriving. “God bless whoever it was.”