Deputies with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office secured the scene of a single-engine aircraft accident Thursday night at Mount Airy-Surry County Airport until a team of Federal Aviation Administration investigators can arrive Friday.
According to airport spokesperson John Springthorpe, at around 7:30 p.m. a single-engine light aircraft with identification numbers N30BA, which was said to be a BD-5, was on its final approach to land. He said an airport attendant next observed the plane crash into a gully west of the runway and called 911.
“It was a small, single-engine experimental plane,” said Scottie Chilton, chief of the Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department. The pilot, described as a white male in his 30s, possibly with the name of Gammons, was the only occupant. He is believed to be a local resident.
Sheriff Graham Atkinson said witness reports indicated that the craft seemed to be having mechanical difficulty.
It went down in a deep ravine on the west side of the airport, where rescuers had to wade through thick briers and underbrush, with the cockpit smashed by the impact.
“He had to be extricated out of the cockpit,” Chilton said of a process that took about 20 minutes.
Springthorpe said the pilot was treated on the scene before being transported to Wake Forest Baptist Health aboard an AirCare helicopter ambulance.
“They said he was complaining of back pain,” the sheriff said, relaying reports from rescue personnel. There was speculation that the man might have suffered a broken back, Atkinson added.
Springthorpe said the attendant did not observe anything wrong with the aircraft before the incident or receive any indication of something being wrong in transmissions before the crash.
The airport was closed in support of the rescue operations in the estimated 40-foot gully where the aircraft came to rest, but officials anticipates the airport would within an hour.
In addition to the Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department, the Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain rescue squads, Surry County Haz-Mart, Surry County EMS and the N.C. Highway Patrol responded to the incident. About 40 members of the various units were on the scene.