Small plane crashes in southwest Houston

October 8, 2008 9:49:55 AM PDT
A small plane bursts into flames just seconds after an emergency landing in southwest Houston. Fortunately, the pilot walked away with barely a scratch.[PHOTOS: Images from scene]

The plane crashed at the height of the morning rush hour in a field off the Southwest Freeway near Bissonnet. It was just before 7am when the pilot of the small twin engine plane says he started having some sort of mechanical problem. He immediately started looking for a place to land.

Service worker Chris Terry had just parked his car at the nearby Lincoln Mercury dealership when he noticed the plane.

"It was just total silence and it was like he was floating in the air. It was real slow. When he hit the ground I didn't hear a boom, a crash or nothing," he said.

Terry watched the plane hit the ground on the field behind the dealership along the feeder road.

"I took off running inside the shop to find somebody to call the cops or call for some help," said Terry.

Terry and a co-worker jumped the fence and ran towards the wreckage. By that time, the plane was totally consumed in flames. They told Eyewitness News they began yelling to see if anyone would answer. Fearing the worst, they were shocked when someone responded.

"We heard him saying he was over here," said Terry.

Workers from another dealership also ran to the field to see if anyone was alive. All of them were stunned to see the pilot walking around.

"He appeared to be fine. In fact, initially, I thought it was the guy from the store next door and he said, 'I was flying it and I was alone,'" said witness Jeff Pollard. "We were really concerned someone may have been in the airplane. And he said, 'No, I was alone, so don't go near it.'"

Investigators have not released much on the pilot or where he was headed, only saying they knew he left from the Pearland area and the engine shut off as he made the emergency landing.

"I'm not a pilot, but in my opinion he did a great job considering rush hour traffic and nobody was injured," said Chief Richard Mann with the Houston Fire Department. "I don't think you can have a plane crash and get any better than that."

We do believe the pilot may have actually jumped from the plane just as he got within a few feet of landing. He was treated at the scene by an EMS crew.

Federal investigators were on the scene. There's no word yet on what caused the accident.

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