Pilot survives small plane crash in Baytown

March 17, 2013 8:24:55 PM PDT
The FAA is investigating the cause of a small plane crash in Baytown. The pilot, a NASA employee, escaped the crash in remarkably good shape.

Residents say they heard what they thought sounded like a major car accident when the small plane went down in a wooded area.

But barely visible through a thick stand of trees was a single-engine Cessna that made a very hard landing.

"A big bang. It was like something was going through the trees," neighbor Martha George said.

Neighbors who live next to the wooded area remember hearing the crash around 10:30pm Saturday.

"All these old trees was falling, and I said that sounded like a plane went down," neighbor Albert Flowers said.

According to DPS, the plane's pilot, 57-year-old Linda Shackelford, says her engine stalled coming into La Porte from Mississippi. The plane came down near Market Street and Highway 146 in Baytown.

"There's damage to the front of it. The driver's side door is off the fuselage, and the right side door is open. The windshield is out of the plane as well," DPS Trooper Richard Standifer said.

In the woods, you can see the thick underbrush into which the plane crashed. DPS saying that might have actually worked in the pilot's favor, helping to cushion the hard landing.

"It's very extensive, and she's extremely lucky to still be here. I've worked a couple of these where the people were not so lucky," Standifer said.

According To DPS, Shackelford was fully conscious when paramedics took her to Memorial Hermann Hospital to be treated for cuts and bruises.

"That surprises me. The way all that racket went in there," said Flowers. "She's lucky. Boy, she's lucky. The good man was looking over her."

According to DPS, Shackelford is affiliated with the NASA space program. Their initial report said she was an astronaut. A representative with NASA, though, tells us she works as a flight surgeon, monitoring astronaut's vitals from the ground.

The plane remains lodged deep in the woods. DPS says it could take a day or two for the FAA to wrap up the investigation, and some heavy equipment to get the plane out.

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