PALESTINE — A man sustained non life-threatening injuries Tuesday after his ultralight aircraft crashed on the runway at Palestine Municipal Airport.
The pilot, Ronald Quencer, 55, of Tyler, was care-flighted to Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler following the accident, which occurred around 3 p.m. according to Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brent Taylor.
Taylor said an electrician working at the airport saw the accident and described it to officials.
“Basically, he was coming in to land. He was back and forth, back and forth,” Taylor said, using his hands to replicate a see-saw motion. “When it got over the runway, about 50 feet up, just all of the sudden the nose came down first and hit the runway.”
Taylor said the pilot was pinned in under the aircraft.
“The fire department got here and got him out.”
Lota Clark, a friend of Quencer who arrived at the scene following the accident, said she'd learned he had sustained compound fractures in both feet and a broken nose, though these reports have not yet been confirmed. Taylor confirmed that while at least one foot was broken, the pilot was not critically injured.
“He knew his name, he knew his birthday, he knew his wife's name, phone number and all that kind of stuff, so he was conscious,” Taylor said, “and they flew him to Tyler.”
According to Clark, the aircraft Quencer was operating was an M-Squared Breese, a high-wing ultralight aircraft produced by M-Squared Aircraft in Alabama. The aircraft comes in kit form for amateur construction.
The Clarks had owned the aircraft before selling it to Quencer in November.
“We've had it for years and we just recently sold it to him,” Clark said. “My husband had known him for several years. He'd been asking him to sell the plane... and he's been flying it for a while.”
Lota suggested that while their friend was somewhat green on operating the aircraft close to the ground, he was always careful.
“I know he had a helmet on. He was very safety conscious, I mean really safety conscious,” she said.
After Taylor took photos of the damaged aircraft and debris for the Federal Aviation Administration, Palestine Municipal Airport employees removed the aircraft from the airfield. The FAA will make contact with the pilot at the hospital today for their investigation.
First responders to the scene included Palestine Regional Medical Center EMS, the Trinity Mother Frances Flight for Life helicopter, Palestine fire and police departments, Westside Volunteer Fire Department and Constable Precinct 2 Doug Lightfoot.
Community Editor Cheril Vernon contributed to this report.