MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) – Two people helped a pilot get to safety after a plane crashed in Burke County Monday afternoon, according to officials.
The crash happened around 4:45 p.m. on Jamestown Road, Burke County EMS tweeted. The message was tweeted along with a picture that shows the aircraft on the ground engulfed in flames.
The pilot, 84-year-old John Henry Shell Sr, was able to get to safety with the help of two witnesses, Tyler Woodard and Brian Stevens, who saw the crash and rushed over. Shell was out of the aircraft – a Superior T 6 – but needed help getting away from the burning plane.
Woodard said he knew something was wrong when he saw the plane circling and heard the engine sputtering near his apartment building.
“It hit the trees and exploded in flames,” he said.
Woodard and Stevens went running to see if they could help.
“There was a lot of fire,” Stevens said.
When they got to the plane Shell was stumbling out of the aircraft. Woodward said they grabbed his arms and helped him get away from the burning wreckage.
“He is very lucky to be alive,” said Morganton Public Safety Chief Ronnie Rector.
Shell was then taken to a nearby hospital before being transferred to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He was expected to stay there overnight.
According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane is owned by John H. Shell, Sr from Morganton. The plane, which is listed as “experimental” was manufactured in 2010.
Federal investigators will be on scene Tuesday looking into what may have caused the crash.