UPDATE: NTSB releases preliminary report in Rhea County plane cr - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: NTSB releases preliminary report in Rhea County plane crash

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UPDATE: According to a preliminary report, the pilot, Theodore Owens, told a Federal Aviation Administration inspector his plane's engine lost power and therefore he decided to land in a field in Rhea County.

During the forced landing, the plane hit trees and eventually the ground, which caused major damage to the fuselage, wings, and empennage. Owens was on his way to Jasper, Georgia from Rock Falls, Illinois.

A witness told investigators the plane appeared to be flying "low, slow, and seemed to be flying in a circle" until it hit trees.

The report notes there was also an odor similar to aviation fuel at the scene. The plane's engine was kept for further examination.

PREVIOUS STORY A spokeswoman with Erlanger Medical Center confirmed to Channel 3 on Wednesday that the condition of Owens improved from critical to fair.

Stay with Channel 3 and WRCBtv.com for more on this developing story.

PREVIOUS STORY According to a Rhea County Sheriff's Department report, 71-year-old Theodore Owens is the pilot who crashed a Rockwell International 112A aircraft on Monday near Walkertown Road on Dayton Mountain.

He was transported for his injuries to Erlanger Medical Center. He's listed in critical condition.

Owens is from Jasper, Georgia and told authorities he was flying back from Illinois. He told first responders about his left arm hurting when they arrived. 

When they asked what had happened, Owens wasn't sure and said he didn't remember anything.

PREVIOUS STORY: A pilot is recovering after a plane crash in a rural part of Rhea County. It happened just before 1:00 p.m. on Monday near Walkertown Road on Dayton Mountain. 

The Rhea County Sheriff's Office said the pilot was traveling to Atlanta from Illinois when he suddenly crashed. Channel 3 spoke with 23-year-old Meredith Farnsworth who called 9-1-1.

"I was laying out tanning by the pool and there was a plane that flew very low, which happens kind of often around here, but I heard the crash and that's what triggered me to go run across the field to find it," Farnsworth said.

She rushed over to check on the pilot and talked with him until medics could arrive. Farnsworth said he appeared to be relaxed, given the situation.

"His left arm was broken, very likely at least. His face was cut up. Things like that, but mentally he was alert and he was with me, so, really, that was the important part, I think," Farnsworth said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the plane was a Rockwell International 112A aircraft. It's registered with the FAA under a business named JKM Enterprises, Inc. out of Rock Falls, Illinois.

Right now, it's unclear what caused it to crash.

"You only see plane crashes in movies and things like that, so to see it in person was definitely an experience. It was new," Farnsworth said.

The Sheriff's Office said the pilot had no one else in the plane with him. His identity hasn't been released yet.

The pilot was taken to the hospital. His condition isn't known. 

The FAA is also investigating the crash.

Stay with Channel 3 and WRCBtv.com for more on this developing story.

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