Injured pilot identified in Sumter Co. plane crash

Updated: Apr. 11, 2019 at 5:19 PM EDT
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SUMTER CO., GA (WALB) - Sumter County Fire and Rescue responded to a plane crash Thursday morning where one person was injured, according Chief John Ekaitis.

Cheif Deputy Eric Bryant said Norman Phillip Curtis Jr. was the man flying the plane.

Fire and rescue was dispatched to the crash site near Hodges Field, outside Andersonville, at 10:51 a.m.

Curtis, the only one aboard, was trapped in the plane with serious injuries that included injuries to his legs, and some facial lacerations, the chief said.

Brent Beasley, with Gold Star EMS, said Curtis was stable on scene and that his injuries are non-life threatening.

(Sumter Co. Fire and Rescue)
(Sumter Co. Fire and Rescue)

The Sumter County Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene in seven minutes and then it took about 10 minutes to remove Curtis from the plane.

He was airlifted to the nearest trauma center, according to Ekaitis.

Ekaitis said the plane was taking off and was about 800 to 1,000 feet in the air when something went wrong. He also said 15 firefighters assisted in getting Curtis out of the one-seat plane and that removing him wasn’t complicated.

At 10:51am this morning SCFR was dispatched to Hodges Field to a plane crash. Central dispatch notified responding...

Posted by Sumter County Fire Rescue on Thursday, April 11, 2019

The freedom of flying can be contagious and dangerous.

Knowing the risk, pilots come to Hodges Field to assemble and fly aircrafts everyday.

Could freedom be what caused this plane to plummet to the ground Thursday?

“We told him that he was climbing it out too steep and he didn’t listen to us,” said Mac Hodges as he glanced at the airplane debris on his property, thinking of Curtis.

“Stupid, buddy what were you thinking?,” Hodges asked. “It should’ve gone maybe like this, he went like this, and the little motor only has so much power it can’t continue to go up and he kept pulling it up and it stalled and it did one and a half spins straight down into the ground.”

Hodges said Curtis had about 100 hours of flying this plane.

Doug Thomas flew the plane once before. He even helped put it together and couldn’t find any problems.

“The airplane flew really, really nice. There was nothing wrong with the airplane,” said Thomas.

Thomas also said it was just pilot error.

“He stalled the plane on takeoff which is the worst place in the world you can stall,” said Thomas.

This would be the second crash at Hodges’ field.

“Two too many,” said Hodges.

It’s something Hodges doesn’t want to see again.

“If it had been a little higher, it would’ve been a whole lot worse,” said Hodges.

“When you pull up like that the plane will start shuttering and all at once it’ll just quit flying,” said Thomas.

Even knowing the risk of flying these handmade aircraft, these men agree, it isn’t enough to kept them from soaring the skies.

People at Hodges’ field said this was a certified plane that did pass their inspections.

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