Small plane crashes near Montgomery Co. home

August 24, 2010 10:09:34 AM PDT
A pilot is in the hospital after crashing his plane in the front yard of a home in Montgomery County. Court Koenning suffered severe head injuries in that crash. He was piloting a small plane that went down around 10pm Monday night at a home on Oak Knoll and Old Houston in Porter. The crash was just a quarter mile away from the Williams Airfield in Porter.

As daylight hit the crash scene, debris could be seen scattered all over the yard, leading up to where the plane went down. The parachute, which is contained in a compartment on the top of the plane, deployed at some point and is still draped on the branches of a tree.

"He hit that big pine there, then he hit this one here, then that one, then just went down," said resident Bill Porter.

He and his neighbors didn't have much time to think, just react.

"I just seen it and yelled to my mom to call 911," said Jacob Branstetter.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the pilot is 37-year-old Court Koenning. He's a long-time pilot and a big player in the Harris County Republican party.

From the hospital, Koenning's family friends tell Eyewitness News he was trying to land the single-engine Cirrus at Williams Airfield around 10pm Monday night, but he struck a tree, then took a nose-dive.

Investigators say the plane was taking off from Williams Field and was in the air for only about a quarter mile before it apparently died and crashed 50 feet from the Branstetter's home.

"We're lucky to be here. Another 10 or 15 feet and it could've hit the house," said Branstetter.

He rushed over to rescue the pilot from the front seat of the aircraft.

"He was all kind of tangled up in there and we really couldn't pull him out," Branstetter said.

A husband and father of two young boys, Koenning has worked alongside political heavyweights like U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, Texas Senator Dan Patrick and then-Attorney General John Cornyn. In the past, he's also served as KTRK's political analyst.

As the Branstetters circle the mangled debris in their yard, they forget their own close brush with danger and turn their thoughts to Koenning and his family.

"I want them to know they're in our prayers," said Kathy Branstetter.

It's not clear what caused the accident. The FAA is investigating.

Family friends tell us Koenning is in critical condition in the ICU at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

We worked on this story with our Houston Community Newspaper partners. You can read more in The Courier of Montgomery County.


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