Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beechcraft G18S, Great American Transportation Co., Inc., N6B: Incident occurred April 21, 2012 at Cornelia Fort Air Park (M88), East Nashville, Tennessee
  Regis#: 6B        Make/Model: BE18      Description: 18 
  Date: 04/22/2012     Time: 0000

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: NASHVILLE   State: TN   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: NASHVILLE, TN  (CE19)                 Entry date: 04/23/2012 

Russell Brothers, Jr., stands next to the vintage twin-engine Beechcraft airplane that he guided to a belly-slide landing at Cornelia Fort Airpark on Friday night. He said this photo was taken on Saturday. 
Provided by Russell Brothers, Jr. 

Written by Tony Gonzalez 
The Tennessean

Flying through rain in the dark before midnight on Friday, a 74-year-old pilot said he used the lights of Opryland to guide his vintage airplane to a smooth belly landing on a grass strip at a shuttered airport in East Nashville, landing without injury but stirring up questions about his past.

Even without landing gear, Russell Brothers, Jr., came down so gently in his 1961 twin-engine Beechcraft Model 18 that he didn’t trigger the crash locator that he said would have given authorities his location at Cornelia Fort Airpark.

He was alone and uninjured at an airstrip he’d flown to for more than 50 years before it closed. He said he called his wife to pick him up and they rode back to Burns, Tennessee, leaving the airplane behind as a mystery for police.

“We were just both thankful that I wasn’t hurt and that was all we talked about,” Brothers said by phone this morning.

He said he was flying Friday from Miami to Dickson, Tennessee, near his home. When his landing gear did not work, Brothers thought of the only grass strip he knew in Nashville.

“When your gear won’t come down, you don’t pull it over to the side of the road and call the wrecker,” Brothers said. “That field was the most appropriate place to put it down.”

He knew it’d be smooth because of the years he spent as air traffic manager at the airpark.

“There were no lights, but I had been flying in and out of that place 55 years and was familiar with the terrain and geography,” he said. “We used Opryland as an approach fix, and so then I flew out over Old Hickory Lake to Opryland and all the lights and made an approach into the strip.”

Brothers said he wasn’t scared.

“I’m Christian and I prayed about this obviously and felt that my safety was in the hands of the Lord,” he said. “I was concerned about tearing up my airplane. That was the main thing on my mind.

“People are not calm in situations like this, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said. “I don’t want to sound cavalier, but when you’ve been flying as long as I have you’re going to find situation like this that occur.”

Brothers wrote an account of the night for the Federal Aviation Administration and Metro Nashville police.

Unusual landing raises questions about pilot's past 

 Don Aaron, police spokesman, said a Metro Parks Department maintenance worker found the plane Saturday and notified police the next day when it had not moved.

Aaron said officers hope to meet with Brothers in the coming week — the latest in Brothers’ long history of encounters with police. In 1988, he was convicted of international drug smuggling, having brought 1.5 tons of cocaine into South Florida. He served 11 years in prison as part of a 60-year sentence.

Brothers said he wasn’t carrying drugs Friday.

“I certainly don’t want any more part of that,” Brothers said. “Like a lot of men in their midlife crisis, they forget about what is important in their life, and I did.

“I hurt my family then and I certainly don’t want to go through that again,” Brothers said. “It’s not a remote option.”

As for the potential police interview, he said he’d be glad to talk with them.

“I have nothing to hide,” he said.

Brothers said he reported the airplane Saturday to a Metro Parks employee who he knows. That information did not make it to law enforcement until Sunday.

“When I was out there in the field Sunday afternoon nobody knew whose it was,” Aaron said.
Brothers grew up in Belle Meade, attended Vanderbilt University and lived at the Airpark before losing his home in the 2010 flood.

FAA records show Brothers received his first pilot’s license in 1966, but that he is not current on the accompanying medical certificate that is required to fly. Asked if he should not have been flying without it, he said that is “essentially correct.”

Metro Police and the Federal Aviation Administration are working to identify the pilot who landed a 1961 Beechcraft twin-engine airplane on the grass at the closed Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville. 

The plane has been on the runway since at least yesterday, when it was first discovered by a Metro Parks employee. 

When the landing gear became inoperable, police said, the pilot apparently cut the engines before belly landingin a large grassy area adjacent to the runway.

 The propellers and engines show obvious damage. 

 The plane is registered to Great American Transportation, Inc., which lists its address as Cornelia Fort Airpark. 

Metro police have no information about who or what was onboard the airplane and there is no indication that anyone was seriously injured. 

No cargo or contraband was located when officers arrived Sunday. Metro officers and the FAA are working to determine the plane’s whereabouts over the last several weeks.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Metro Nashville police and federal investigators are trying to locate the person responsible for crash-landing and leaving a small plane at a closed airpark.

Metro police said in a release that a 1961 Beechcraft twin-engine airplane went down on grass at the closed Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville.

The statement says a maintenance worker with the parks department found the plane Saturday morning near the runway and notified police Sunday because it wasn't moved.

Police say it appears the landing gear became inoperable and the pilot or pilots belly-landed the plane, which is registered to Great American Transportation Inc. There is no indication anyone suffered serious injury in the landing.

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