Sumter County -- A south Georgia pilot and a teenager were injured in a plane crash Wednesday. A group of young people who had already taken rides in the small plane watched in horror as it went down near an airstrip just south of Andersonville in Sumter County.
Witnesses say it appeared the Piper Cub just fell out of the sky, about 100 yards from the Hodges Hobbies Landing Strip where the flight started.
Fifty-seven-year-old Billy Hodges was flying 17-year-old Logan Joiner of Leesburg in his plane when family members said the unthinkable happened. Hodges brother, Mac Hodges said, "From what I gather, it just made a little too steep of a turn, and then just didn't have the altitude to get back to flying speed, and it just kinda pancaked the ground."
Hodges said his brother is a very good pilot, with decades of flying experience. Joiner suffered back injuries, but they are not life threatening. But Hodges suffered serious head and ankle injuries, and had to be cut out of the plane's wreckage. Sumter County Sheriff's Office Colonel Eric Bryant said "one of the victims had gotten out of the crash, and the other was trapped inside. So we had to extricate him from the vehicle."
After the crash there was still gas in the wing of the plane, so emergency crews had to use extreme caution while cutting back the wings and top of the aircraft.
His brother said Hodges was taking several children and teens for a fun flight when the crash happened. "Just giving them a ride. And he had given several other kids a ride, and this was the last kid that he was taking up, and he would have been through after he landed with this kid."
Mac Hodges thinks the extreme heat may have played a role in the crash, saying the air was so thin because of the heat that there was not enough lift to keep the small, lightly powered plane in the air during the turn.
Both Hodges and Joiner were taken to the Flint River Community Hospital in Montezuma for emergency treatment. Hodges was then airlifted to a Macon Hospital. Joiner was later taken to a Macon Hospital for more X-rays of his back injuries.
Both men are at the Medical Center of Central Georgia where they are listed in critical condition.
Federal Investigators from Atlanta are at the crash site to supervise the removal of the plane and investigate the cause.