CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
The pilot of the plane that went down in Walton, Georgia Saturday tells Channel 3 that he, his passenger and the two dogs on board are doing okay.
Pilot Jason Bailey suffers from 3 broken ribs, a cracked sternum, punctured lung, broken tailbone, bruised heart and two fractured disks in his lower back on top of multiple contusions and lacerations. He says being able to walk away from the crash site is nothing short of a miracle.
When Jason Bailey left Chattanooga around 7:30 in the evening, he thought it would be an uneventful one-hour flight to Greensboro, Georgia. It was getting dark when Bailey decided to change his route to Monroe Georgia, that airport was closer and radiation fog was making it impossible to see.
"If you have ever been on Lookout Mountain, when it's really foggy up there sometimes you can't even see in front of your face. In the fog it was definitely that thick," said Bailey.
Just 6 miles from the airport with the field beacon and runway lights in sight, there is a loud bang. Bailey told Channel 3 his engine suddenly caught fire filling his cockpit with smoke.
"All of a sudden a very unexpected loud bank and it was obviously from the engine and immediately following was black smoke, the smell of black smoke. It's one of those things where you train for it you've read about it but it's not just you, it's everybody else on board in the cockpit," said Bailey.
In seconds Bailey opened a side window, shut off the fuel and pointed the nose to the ground to put out the flames. He quickly realized he wouldn't make the runway.
"In my mind I was thinking well it's been a good few years I've had here , we might not make it," said Bailey.
The plane hit a couple of trees, went into a spin and landed nearly 100 feet from his destination. Fellow pilots say it is a miracle anyone survived.
"It's truly by the grace of God they're walking out of that. Jason is a good pilot, I've flown with him before... nice and smooth and he is good. He had pretty good skills to get it down like that, " said fellow pilot Frank Davey.
At first Bailey says he didn't feel much pain, he was too worried about his passengers. Luckily his passenger is doing okay, she is reportedly recovering from a few broken ribs and a back injury.
One of the dogs flying with Bailey was ejected from the plane during the crash, that pup survived with multiple fractures and a separated shoulder.
The other dog flying will also be okay, he only has a fractured paw. Bailey says the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
He tells Channel 3 he believes missing the fog in Greensboro and hitting the small patch of trees beside the runway, saved their lives.