Discoveries found from plane crash

Published 7:57 pm Friday, October 5, 2012

My first visit to Craig Field Airport and Industrial Authority wasn’t to tee off at Craig Golf Course and Driving Range or even to hop on a jet plane and travel to somewhere exotic, instead I went to Craig Field to take pictures of a plane that crash-landed outside of Selma on Saturday, Sept. 29. And in all honesty, the anticipation of what I may find waiting for me at Craig Field was more exciting than if my premier visit had been a casual trip to the golf course.

The small plane that now rests just outside the fence on Craig Field was flying from Mobile to Tuscaloosa, carrying the pilot and three passengers to watch the Alabama game when both motors failed. The plane went down in the Sardis area and came to rest in a cotton field. Miraculously, all four men on board the aircraft were uninjured.

The plane was moved by Selma Air Center and laid to rest, for the time being, in an area outside the fence, making it easy for me, or anyone else to drive right up and view the damage for myself.

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In fact, as I was inspecting the aircraft on Thursday afternoon, taking pictures for Friday’s news coverage, a man who lives in the Sardis area walked right off the fourth tee of the golf course and up to the plane. He asked if the aircraft we were now standing just inches away from, was in fact the plane that crash-landed on Saturday.

I told him yes, and as he glanced between my camera, the plane, and me he asked if I was the insurance agent. I laughed and shook my head, and let him know that I was from the Times-Journal.

Turns out, the man from the course was a pilot.

Not knowing the details of what caused the plane to experience motor failure, he was able to explain some things to me about how the wings work, and hypothesize on what might have happened.

The man lifted the bent right wing up-and-down and told me to look through the front window and watch as the wheel turned back and forth –something I never would have known, and I never would have done, had I been on my own.

I’m so thankful for people like the pilot from Sardis who help me  gain a greater understanding of the stories I am sent to cover.

Aside from the cotton clusters that made the plane wheels appear soft and white, the physical damage to the aircraft seemed minimal.

Speaking to John White-Spunner, a passenger who not only survived the crash but made it to Tuscaloosa in time for the Alabama game, I could hear in his voice a genuine joy to be alive. He said experiencing something like this, changes your attitude on life.

His advice deriving from his experience is one that I think myself and all Selmians could benefit from.

“Hug the people you love,” he said. “And also hug the people you don’t even like.”