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Pilot, newspaper reporter sustain minor injuries in plane crash at Cape airport

Friday, September 14, 2012

This frame grab from a video taken by Southeast Missourian photographer Laura Simon shows the plane at the moment of impact.
Cape Girardeau regional Airport Manager Bruce Loy, left, makes his way over to assist pilot John Ellis and Southeast Missourian reporter James Samons after the PT-19 WWII plane they were traveling crashed at the airport Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 afternoon. Both Ellis and Samons were taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the crash.
(Laura Simon)
Click here to access the video on YouTube

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.

Pilot John Ellis gives instructions to Southeast Missourian reporter James Samons before their flight in a PT-19 WWII plane Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 afternoon at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. The plane crashed during a "flour bomb" attempt. Both Ellis and Samons were taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the crash.
(Laura Simon)
According to Samons, the airplane was approaching to make a low pass-by. Airport officals say they saw it began to drop lower and lower. The airplane, a single-propeller PT-19 training plane, made a belly-landing on the grass adjacent to the runway, where it skidded and turned in a different direction before coming to a complete stop.

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.



Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO

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That was a beautiful PT-19! Hope the owner can fix it up fairly easy and have it flying again. This is unfortunate!

-- Posted by BananaEater on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 1:10 PM

Well, I guess he has a really good story to write about now! I am happy to hear there were only minor injuries.

-- Posted by MINT4U on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 3:36 PM

It crashed from less than 10 feet in the air? Who's never fallen 10 feet before? ಠ_ಠ

-- Posted by tyrantulas on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 4:56 PM

It crashed from less than 10 feet in the air? Who's never fallen 10 feet before? ಠ_ಠ

-- Posted by tyrantulas on Thu, Sep 13, 2012, at 4:56 PM


Not sure what you're saying. My old drivers ed teacher (remember them?) tried to illustrate the human body's frailty in a vehicle accident by suggesting you run full speed into a brick wall to test your theory. I don't know that he got any takers. Maybe tyrantulas can enlighten us.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 7:11 AM

Cars crash at an elevation of zero feet and cause lots of injuries and fatalities.

-- Posted by Observer1 on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 8:27 AM

Every plane crashes from an elevation of less than 10 feet. Until point of impact, they're still flying.

-- Posted by malan on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 9:14 AM

I saw this guy flying low all over Jackson/Fruitland yesterday. I thought it a bit strange. Sounds like I should have been even more concerned.

-- Posted by grandma73 on Fri, Sep 14, 2012, at 1:30 PM

Malan....flying means you still have lift. without it you are not flying but rather falling.

-- Posted by semolover on Sat, Sep 15, 2012, at 11:55 PM

ive known and flown with john for quite a few years,

hes a very good and experienced pilot in fact ive been in the pt 19 flying over the cape

like the lady said a crash is a crash

just glad he was able to walk away

take care john!!!

-- Posted by usedandabused on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 5:11 AM

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Map of pertinent addresses