Pilot walks away from crash in neighborhood
CARSON CITY – A capital city pilot received minor injuries Wednesday when he crashed his plane into a residential neighborhood, narrowly missing homes.
“He’s very lucky he went down the street and didn’t hit any houses,” said Dottie Kelley as she and her husband examined the remainder of their fence at the corner of Apollo Drive and Hiko Court. The Kelley mailbox, encased in three feet of concrete, also fell victim to the Cessna 182 as it barreled down the street about 12:15 p.m.
Kelley said she was inside her home when she heard the noise and knew there was a crash of some sort.
“I didn’t expect to see a plane,” she said.
Homeowner Jed Martin said that when he heard the noise, he walked outside and saw the lone occupant, pilot Bill Fletcher, climb out of the wreckage.
According to Undersheriff Steve Albertsen, Fletcher had just taken off from the Carson City Airport when, he “felt there was a problem over (Eagle Valley) golf course and he turned to take the plane back to the airport.”
He said Fletcher, 47, suffered an injury to his chin. He declined medical attention.
Witnesses said it sounded as though the engine had stopped when the plane fell to the ground in the intersection, slid through the edge of the Kelley yard, and ended up blocking both directions of Apollo Drive.
“I heard the engine cut out right over my house like it had run out of gas,” said homeowner Ross Price who lives adjacent to the Kelleys. “Then I heard a crash and saw nothing but dust.”
Price noted he was hoping the airport, just northwest of the accident site, would change its flight path.
“This is devastating, my mother is in tears,” Tawny Cooper said as she took photographs of the wreckage. Her father Bob Griffin was the victim of a 2001 plane crash in which a Piper Cherokee landed on him in his Apollo Drive back yard. Wednesday’s crash was only two houses from the Griffin home.
Cooper said her father hasn’t yet completely recovered, physically or emotionally, from the crash.
“After my father’s accident they were saying they are going to move the (airport’s) landing strip, but they haven’t done it yet,” she said.
Neil Weaver, owner of Weaver Aircraft and candidate for commissioner of Ward 3, said Fletcher is an experienced pilot.
“He is the most professional pilot I’ve ever known,” said Weaver. “He flies by the book and only a guy who flies by the book could save his ass like that.”
Fletcher declined to comment.
The Federal Aviation Administration was called in to investigate.
Dottie Kelley was sure there was someone else in Fletcher’s plane when it crashed.
“Him and a guardian angel,” she said.