Excellent emergency piloting, luck or a combination of both on Friday evening allowed a pilot and his three passengers to live and recount their harrowing experience after their aircraft clipped a self-supporting tower in Springfield, Mo. and continued for a mile and a half before crashing into a vacant lot.
The pilot, Bill Perkins, was well-aware of the obstruction hazards towers present. Perkins owns KSPR-TV which broadcasts from a 1,997-foot guyed tower in Fordland, Mo.
Two passengers walked away from the scene of the crash at 5:30 p.m.; Perkins suffered a couple of bones broken and another passenger received minor injuries, according to authorities.
A witness, also a pilot, said he saw the six-seat craft come in from the west and hit the tower.
“It came right over this building, headed toward this tower and it hit the tower,” Steve Moore said. “It looked like probably the left wing hit it. Big thud, great old fuel trail behind it,” Moore told KOLR 10.
Brenda Hill, a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless, confirmed yesterday that the plane made contact with a Verizon-owned cell tower near Chestnut Expressway and the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.
Hill said there was no loss of service, but Verizon representatives were on the scene Saturday to assess the damage to the tower and determine what repairs were needed, if any.
Investigators from the FAA and NTSB are continuing to investigate the crash.