A Utica man is recovering after his plane crashed Saturday afternoon near where the Big Black River meets the Mississippi River.
The pilot, Howard Jennings, 59, of Utica, was found safe early Sunday and transported to Merit Health River Region for what appears to be symptoms of hypothermia and dehydration.
“This is one of the few cases that I’ve been involved in where we’re searching for a down plane that actually has a happy ending,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “Most often that’s not the case.”
The pilot’s family called authorities around 7 p.m. Saturday when they became concerned he had not returned from his afternoon trip over the river, and they said he never flew after dark.
Jennings had left from a private airfield north of Utica in a single-engine Piper Supercub earlier Saturday.
“He’s an experience pilot with many, many hours flying,” Pace said.
Law enforcement used his cell phone to track his last known location, leading them to where the two rivers meet.
Since the plane took off from near Utica, the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office was also notified. Hinds County called in the assistance of the Metro One helicopter, the law enforcement helicopter out of Jackson.
The Coast Guard put out a bulletin notifying commercial traffic on the river to be on the lookout, and Coast Guard planes used searchlights to scan the banks of the river. They were unable to locate anything Saturday night however.
Sunday morning, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office took boats to Port Gibson near Grand Gulf and traveled north toward the mouth of the Big Black. At 8:30 a.m. the Metro One helicopter spotted the plane upside down in shallow water on the west side of an island in the Mississippi River near the Louisiana bank and saw Jennings walking around.
“He was cold and wet but otherwise OK,” Pace said.
The helicopter transported Jennings to River Region where he is being treated for hypothermia and possible dehydration.
After speaking with Jennings, Pace said the plane crashed around 1:15 p.m. Saturday just as the last phone signal was picked up. He was landing the plane and hit a high spot causing the plane to bounce and then flip over.
“It actually wasn’t even a hard impact. The plane does not even appear to be severely damaged,” Pace said.
A release from the Hinds County Sheriff's Department said authorities received a call around 7 p.m. Saturday from family members who were concerned about Howard Jennings, 59, of Utica. They told police that Jennings took off in his plane from a private landing strip near his home just after noon on Saturday. They said he was headed to a sandbar in the Mississippi River near the Grand Gulf Power Station.
Authorities say the last contact family had with Jennings was around 1 p.m. on Saturday when he sent his family a photo of his destination on the sandbar.
Search and rescue efforts were hampered due to darkness and weather on Saturday, authorities said. Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, along with the Mississippi National Guard and Metro One and Hinds County Sheriff’s Investigators began searching the area early Sunday morning.
Metro One personnel located the aircraft upside down in the water near a sandbar, and Jennings was outside the airplane alive.
Jennings was loaded aboard the helicopter and transported him to River Region Hospital in Vicksburg, apparently suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. The Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the incident.
WARREN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – A man is recovering after his small airplane crashed near the Mississippi River on Saturday night.
Hinds County officials say around 7 p.m., they’ve received a call from concerned family members of Howard Jennings.
The Utica man had flown alone out of a private landing strip near his home Saturday afternoon. He was headed the Mississippi River near Grand Gulf Power Station.
Family members told officials they had last heard from Jennings around 1 p.m. He sent them a photo of a sandbar near the Mississippi River.
Weather and darkness prevented any immediate search efforts. Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, the Mississippi National Guard, and Metro One joined Hinds County investigators in searching the area early Sunday morning.
Jennings’ airplane was found upside down in the water. He was found near the plane, appearing to be suffering from hypothermia and dehydration.
Metro One flew him to River Region Hospital in Vicksburg.
The Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating.