Plane headed for McCollum crashes in cow pasture
by Joshua Sharpe
January 08, 2014 12:14 AM | 2841 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A small airplane headed for McCollum Field in Kennesaw had to make an emergency landing Saturday afternoon at about 4 p.m. on the land of Canton resident Phil Cochran. Both occupants of the plane survived the landing. Above: Cochran takes his grandson, Sage, 4, to look at the plane before it gets hauled off today.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
A small airplane headed for McCollum Field in Kennesaw had to make an emergency landing Saturday afternoon at about 4 p.m. on the land of Canton resident Phil Cochran. Both occupants of the plane survived the landing. Above: Cochran takes his grandson, Sage, 4, to look at the plane before it gets hauled off today.
Staff/Todd Hull
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CANTON — An east Cherokee County farmer says two men are lucky to be alive after crash-landing a small passenger plane in his cow pasture Saturday afternoon.

The two-seater private plane went down at about 4 p.m. on Phil Cochran’s farm off Wyatt Road, where it was believed to be trying to make an emergency landing, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

Warren Cleary, the pilot, and his passenger weren’t injured, authorities said.

Cochran came home a few minutes after the crash and found the men seemingly unscathed by the plane, which had been headed for Kennesaw.

“They were very shaken up but had no injuries whatsoever,” he said. “I’m just so thankful that no one got hurt or killed.”

The plane was flying to the Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field from the Hartwell area, near the Georgia-South Carolina line, when it started to have engine trouble, said Jon Hansen of Hansen Air Group, which rented the plane to Cleary.

“The engine quit on him,” Hansen said. “He said it was making some power but it wasn’t running real smooth. It wasn’t enough to keep him in the air.”

When the engine started to fail, Hansen said Cleary considered going to the Cherokee County Airport in Ball Ground. But he decided he couldn’t make it and started to look for somewhere to land, Hansen said.

“The closer he got toward (Ball Ground) all he saw was woods and he spotted that farmer’s cow pasture,” he said. “He said he thought he’d just put it down.”

The landing might have been smoother if Cochran’s pasture hadn’t been terraced years ago for water runoff. Hansen said the plane hit the edge of one of the soil terraces as Cleary was trying to land.

“It threw him back in the air,” he said. “When he came down, he came down hard.”

Even with the force of the crash, Hansen said the plane only had damage to its landing gear.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, but information on the preliminary findings won’t be released, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Further information was also not available on Cleary and his passenger, who police said did not tell Cochran their names or phone numbers and left just after the crash.

Cochran said one of the men told him they had been near Hartwell having lunch earlier Saturday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cochran said the plane was still lying in the cow pasture, as FAA investigators continued their work. He said he hoped it could be moved today and wouldn’t leave too much damage to the pasture.

But whatever condition the plane left his land in, Cochran said he’s just glad the men were OK.

“They’re blessed human beings to walk away from it,” he said. “Very blessed people.”

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