The maintenance crew at a southside apartment complex are used to seeing planes fly overhead because a city airport is less than two miles away.
The planes never come close to the ground. Until Tuesday.
Josh Mosley was riding his golf cart on the grounds of Latitudes apartment complex, where he is a maintenance worker, when he looked into the sky and saw an airplane about 100 feet above ground. The apartment complex is located at the northeast corner of Combs and County Line roads.
From a distance, Mosley thought he was watching a remote-control airplane. Then the plane hit the ground at a 45-degree angle, nose first. Mosley heard a faint sound when the plane crashed.
Kerry Vicars was looking for a can of spray paint inside the apartment complex’s maintenance building when he heard a thud. Mosley rushed inside seconds later.
After taking a few steps outside, the workers realized it was not a remote-control plane that had wrecked. This plane was a Cessna fixed-wing single engine from the nearby airport, carrying a 65-year-old instructor and a 38-year-old pilot.
The nose of the plane was broken off, and other parts were crumpled in the field near Combs and County Line roads. Mosley and Vicars ran across County Line Road toward the wreckage, expecting the worst as they got closer and saw the nose of the plane broken off.
About the plane
Here is a look at some details of the plane that crashed in a Greenwood field:
Tail number: N9432U
Owner: Joshua Edwin Groh, Greenwood
Year of manufacture: 1976
Type: Fixed-wing, single engine
Certification last issued: Sept. 16, 2013
Certification expiration: Sept. 30, 2016
SOURCE: Federal Aviation Administration
“We thought we were going to be walking up on some dead people,” Mosley said.
When they were about 50 yards away, Mosley and Vicars saw two men climb out of the wreckage. The workers were surprised to see the victims moving, much less walking, considering the damage to the aircraft.
The student fell to the ground after getting out of the plane, then stood up and said he felt dizzy. The instructor had a cut above his eye and had to be persuaded to lay down, Vicars said.
Vicars took off his sweatshirt, and the instructor and student took turns wearing it.
“They just said they lost an engine,” Vicars said. “They said they were trying to make it back to the airport, but they just couldn’t get there.”
The instructor told police they had to crash land the plane due to engine problems. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
A third employee of the apartment complex rushed to the scene, and the three men worked to keep the instructor and student from moving and to keep them conscious until emergency responders arrived.
Employee Dustin Newton, who is in the Indiana National Guard, kept talking to both men to help them keep their eyes open, he said.
“We’re trained to take care of medical situations if somebody gets hurt,” Newton said. “I just did what I was trained to do.”
Vicars said he isn’t sure if it was the same plane, but he remembers looking outside of the maintenance building and seeing a plane fly past right before the accident occurred. He did not notice anything out of the ordinary when he caught a glimpse of the plane that he presumes was the one that wrecked.
“You don’t pay attention to them because you see them all of the time,” Vicars said. “But it wasn’t even two minutes later when I heard that thud.”
Here is a look at the five most recent plane crashes in Greenwood:
June 11, 2012
A student pilot crashed after overcorrecting during takeoff at Greenwood Municipal Airport, causing a wing to touch the ground and the plane to leave the runway. The pilot had completed two successful takeoffs and landings before the incident.
Cause: Student pilot overcorrected rudders
April 29, 2008
A student pilot’s foot slipped off the brake pedal and his foot partially came out of his shoe while running up the engine for takeoff at Greenwood Municipal Airport. The airplane turned and went off the paved surface and into a cornfield. The front of the airplane sustained substantial damage when the front wheel/gear struck the field.
Cause: The student pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during engine run-up.
Nov. 4, 2007
An airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power. The pilot reported that during climb out smoke began coming into the cockpit, the engine lost power, the oil pressure dropped to zero, and then the engine seized. The pilot attempted to land in a plowed field east of Interstate 65 and County Line Road during which the nose wheel collapsed and the airplane flipped on its back. Oil was found on the bottom of the airplane.
Cause: Lubricating system leak for undetermined reasons that resulted in engine seizure, and the unsuitable terrain encountered during the forced landing caused the airplane to flip.
Injuries: Pilot had minor injuries
Aug. 13, 2005
A helicopter used for sightseeing contacted the ground with the forward tips of the skids while in forward motion, causing the helicopter to roll over onto its side at Greenwood Municipal Airport.
Cause: The pilot didn’t make necessary adjustments during landing.
Injuries: Three people suffered minor injuries.
Nov. 17, 2001
An airplane impacted and veered off the runway during approach and landing at the Greenwood Municipal Airport. A loss of engine power occurred during climb out from the airport. Examination of the engine revealed the No. 3 cylinder’s intake valve was stuck in the open position.
Cause: Control not maintained by the pilot. A contributing factor was the stuck open intake valve on the left engine.
SOURCE: Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board