An airplane carrying a reporter from the Southeast Missourian made a crash-landing Thursday at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.
James Samons, the newspaper's entertainment reporter, was aboard the airplane to write a column about the experience when it crash-landed just past noon. He, along with pilot John Ellis, suffered minor injuries and were transported to Saint Francis Medical Center for treatment.
Another Southeast Missourian employee, photographer Laura Simon, was on the ground doing video when the accident occurred.
Samons was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon. Attempts to reach Ellis on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Bruce Loy, airport manager, couldn't speculate as to what caused the accident. But as manager for the past 15 years, he noted that accidents at the airport are rare and he was able to recall only four instances during his tenure.
"We don't have many accidents here," he said, "but there was definitely something wrong. Luckily, they walked away."
An alert issued from the control tower immediately summoned the Cape Girardeau fire and police departments and the North Scott County Ambulance District. The ambulance crew assisted Samons and Ellis while the fire department inspected the airplane and contained an oil leak in the airplane.
Like Loy, Cape Girardeau fireman Roy Warner couldn't recall many accidents at the airport over the years but was relieved that it was a "no-fire" call. Depending on the emergency, Warner said, the airport can issue three alerts: one for minor incidents, one for an in-flight emergency and a third for a crash or imminent crash.
"We had us an alert 3 today," Warner said. "I'd say that everybody was lucky that it wasn't as bad as it could've been. If the plane had dug into the ground and flipped over, or if a fire had gotten out of control, there may have been fatalities. It just wasn't their time."
Loy praised the efforts of the crews that responded so quickly.
"It's our emergency plan in action," he said. "It was automatic for the tower to call the responders, and it's no surprise that they responded so quickly. We know that we can count on those guys."
The flight Samons had taken was organized to promote the airport's open house Sept. 22. The event will include airplane and helicopter flights, aircraft displays and military vehicle displays and demonstrations.
The cause of the crash is undetermined pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO