Thursday, November 05, 2020

Kolb Firefly: Accident occurred November 05, 2020 at Woodland Airstrip (MU89), Troy, Lincoln County, Missouri

Mike Fleming, right, shakes the hand of Mike Conoyer, the firefighter/paramedic from Central County Fire and Rescue in St. Peters, on Nov. 5. Conoyer was able to climb the tree Fleming crashed his ultralight aircraft into, free Fleming from the plane and get him down to safety. Looking on is Fleming's wife Linda. 

A local pilot gave himself – and the people of Clark Township – a bit of a scare on November 5th when he crashed his aircraft into a bank of nearby trees.

At around 8:33 a.m., calls were reported that an ultralight aircraft had crashed into the tree line just off Wood Creek Road. The occupant, Mike Fleming, 75, was stuck inside of the aircraft, but was uninjured.

“We just had a little mishap (during the flight), but (first responders) were able to get me down, and everything is okay,” Fleming said.

Several area departments responded to the scene of the crash, including Lincoln County Fire Protection District 1, Lincoln County Ambulance District, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri State Highway Patrol. Wright City Fire Protection District, St. Charles County Ambulance Dispatch, Central County Fire Rescue out of St. Peters and St. Louis Metro Urban Search and Rescue all joined in the rescue effort, as well as private sector companies to try and figure out ways to reach Fleming and his aircraft before removing him.

“There were a lot of moving parts that were difficult, impossible, until we got the apparatus we needed,” said Jim Sharp, Lincoln County Emergency Management director.

In order to rescue Fleming, Sharp said they had three basic actions: send an experienced rescue climber to reach the plane, use an all-terrain vehicle with a lift to reach the plane and extricate him or wait for the Missouri National Guard to perform an air rescue.

While all options eventually arrived on the scene, time was of the essence, and Matt Conoyer, a firefighter and paramedic with Central County Fire and Rescue was chosen to make the rescue.

“I introduced myself on the way up (the tree),” said Conoyer, who climbed poles and trees in the private sector for a decade before joining Central County. “I let (Fleming) know what my experience was, and we just talked for a while.

“He said his legs were starting to hurt, but otherwise he was in good spirits.”

Conoyer also said the location of the plane was not an issue in his strategy.

“That was not my concern. I just wanted to get him down,” he said. “The spot he was in was great for me to move in and get him down.”

Once Conoyer was able to remove Fleming from the aircraft, LCAD paramedics checked him for any injuries before Fleming was released and walked away from the scene with his wife Linda.

“When you have an airplane crash, you don’t think someone’s going to walk away,” Sharp said. “He’s in good spirits, and he said he’s grateful for all the people who came to his aid – and also surprised so many people came out just for him.

“You don’t expect something like that to come out of this, but it did, and we’re grateful.”

Lincoln County Fire Protection District:

Earlier today firefighters were dispatched to an airplane crash in the southern part of our district.

A small airplane had crashed into a wooded area and the pilot was trapped in a tree.

Firefighters were able to get the patient into a harness and lower him down using a rescue rope system. The patient suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital. 

Thank you to the following agencies for assistance:

- Lincoln County Ambulance District
- Lincoln County Communications Center
- Lincoln County Emergency Management 
- Warren County Communications Center 
- Wright City Fire District 
- St Charles county Urban Search & Rescue Team 
      •St. Charles City Fire Department
      •St. Charles County Ambulance District
      •Wentzville Fire Protection District 
      •O'Fallon Fire Protection District 
      •Cottleville Fire Protection District 
      •Central County Fire & Rescue
- MO Helicopter Search & Rescue Team
      • Missouri National Guard
      • Missouri Task Force 1 
      • Boone County Fire Protection District
- AirEvac Medical Helicopter

LINCOLN COUNTY, Missouri ( – A pilot is safe after he crashed his plane into a tree Thursday morning.

Lincoln County Fire and Rescue officials said the plane crashed into a tree near Wolf Creek Road before 9 a.m. After the crash, the 78-year-old pilot was able to make his way onto a tree branch and await rescuers. Eventually, Matt Conoyer of Central County Fire and Rescue was able to climb up to the pilot, Mike Fleming, and get him down using a harness. 

"He said he was doing fine but his legs were getting tired," Conoyer said.

More than two hours after the crash, Fleming was slowly brought down to safety.

Fleming said he has been flying since he was a teenager and was trying to land on his private airstrip in front of his home after the engine in his one-seater ultralight plane began to sputter. He tried to clear the trees between him and the runway.

"I thought, 'Well, I'm gonna make it,'" he said. "I thought 'There's some taller ones than I can make.'"

He was unable to make it but got lucky, avoiding a more serious crash when his aircraft lodged itself into the trees. 

Fleming was looked over by medical personnel at the scene, but was not injured.

Officials said now that Fleming is safe, they will look over the plane to ensure it doesn’t fall and injure anyone but they believe it is securely in the tree.

This is not the first time News 4 has covered an accident involving Fleming. In 2018, he suffered a broken arm in a plane crash.


  1. Thats the problem with tree landings,so many pilots have landed safely in them only to break their necks getting out of the tree,a good job done there but how on earth will they retrieve the aircraft ?

    1. A little compensation offered to the landowner for permission to do some chainsaw work will have it down in no time. A competent cutter could get it to lay over gently.

  2. Don't think this was what they meant when they told him "looks like it's time to hang it up" after his 2018 crash

  3. As my instructor told me with a j3. "If you can't make a suitable landing spot then make a green landing". As long as you DON"T STALL and nose dive thru the chances are good a fabric plane will get hung up in the tree.

  4. Tree tops are forgiving; tree trunks will make you pay.