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WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather
SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — One is dead after a fiery plane crash near the Shelby County airport.
The crash occurred on 9th Street off Highway 25 in Calera.
The pilot was the only passenger on the plane, and the aircraft was destroyed by fire during the crash landing.
According to the FAA, around 7 p.m., the Cirrus SR22 aircraft crashed in a field while on approach to Shelby County Airport in Alabama from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
Max Brown, a witness, said, “We thought the bank was on fire because we saw nothing but black smoke. We got up a little closer and we seen the fire in the woods, and realized there was an airport here so we knew it was a plane down. So we went on up the road a little piece and ran through the woods and by the time we got up there, my buddy was screaming, ‘There’s a man in the seat! There’s a man in the seat!’, and I never could see him because the flame was getting bigger until I guess the seat belt must have burned in too, and when he fell over is when I saw the man.”
Calera and Alabaster Police are both on the scene.
Officials on scene have not confirmed if anyone else was on board. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is on the scene and has begun its investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will arrive on Friday to conduct its own investigation.
It happened just after 7 p.m. Thursday.
Pictures and video shared with us show flaming wreckage in a field.
WBRC FOX6 Meteorologist J-P Dice reports that this was a Cirrus SR-22 whose pilot was practicing "touch and go" approaches, which when a pilot practices landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop.
Two witnesses said they saw the smoke from the plane and ran to see if they could help. Evan Slaughter said he actually saw the plane crash. He said it appears the plane was trying to land.
"Our first thought was, 'Did somebody survive this?' You know, chances are probably not because of how bad the impact was but that was our first instinct, was, 'Let's get over there and see if anybody had survived it,'" Slaughter said.
Max Brown described the scene when they came closer.
"We got probably 30 to 40 feet from plane and it just started burning bigger and bigger real fast, my buddy kept screaming, 'There's a man in the seat, a man in the seat!' But I didn't believe him until flames started burning, burning," Brown said.
Brown said he saw the pilot for himself. He said this is something he will never forget. Slaughter offered his prayers for the pilot's loved ones.
A plane went down in Shelby County this evening in a fiery crash, killing one person aboard.
Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley confirmed there was one fatality in the single-engine plane crash, which occurred shortly after 7 p.m. just south of the runway at the Shelby County Airport.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said a Cirrus SR22 aircraft crashed in a field while on approach to Shelby County Airport in Alabama at about 7 p.m. The aircraft was destroyed by fire, she said.
She said she will leave it up to local authorities to release the victim's identity, and said after that is done she will release the aircraft registration information.
The flight departed from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and was on approach to the Shelby County Airport. The crash site – a cleared field just south of the runway – is located just behind the Central State Bank in Calera. The bank was not affected by the crash, the manager said, and no one was inside at the time of the crash.
Witness Max Brown, who drove up to the crash shortly after it occurred, said he saw black smoke and initially thought the bank was on fire.
"We got up closer and saw the fire in the woods, and I knew it was a plane,'' he said. "I jumped out of the truck and ran over as close as I could get to try to help, but by the time I got there, the fire was too hot to get close. You could clearly see the figure of a man in the flames, and all we could do was sit and watch from a distance. It was sad. I wish there was more we could've done."
Traffic became congested along Shelby County Highway 87 south of the airport after the crash, and multiple people stood near the bank and watched firefighters extinguish the flames.
Lemley said the investigation will be completely turned over to the FAA. FAA officials were not yet at the crash site at 8:45 p.m.