Small plane crash lands in Dale backyard

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comApril 3, 2012 

A 76-year-old Lady's Island man sustained only scrapes and bruises after crashing his ultralight plane Monday in a backyard in Dale, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Bob Gamble told deputies he took off from a small, grass air strip on Wimbee Farm Road near Coosaw Plantation and was soaring over Coakley Drive at about 6:30 p.m. when he began experiencing engine trouble, according to a Sheriff's Office incident report.

Gamble told deputies that when the engine sputtered then stalled, he had no choice but to put the plane down in the backyard of a home owned by Abraham Coakley, the report said.

Coakley, who owns a local pressure-washing business, said he didn't see the crash but heard the aircraft smash into a barbed-wire fence in his yard.

"It wasn't too loud of a noise," Coakley said. "He couldn't have been that high. I've seen a lot of things, but that's not something I expected to see. He tore that plane up. The wheels were broken off, and the underside of the plane was all smashed up. It didn't do any damage to my house."

Gamble declined to be interviewed Tuesday. Damage to the plane was estimated at about $500, the incident report said.

Abraham said Gamble appeared to have only superficial injuries when he emerged from the wreckage of the small plane and began walking toward Coosaw Plantation after promising to remove the aircraft from Abraham's yard.

By Tuesday night, the plane had been moved.

The Sheriff's Office has closed the case, and charges are not likely to be filed, according to Sgt. Robin McIntosh, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

"The case has not been assigned for investigation," McIntosh said. "My understanding is that the (Federal Aviation Administration) was contacted but that the incident did not meet protocol for their involvement ... due to the type of aircraft, the estimated height it flies, and the circumstances of the landing."

The FAA typically does not investigate ultralight plane accidents, according to its regulations.

The incident report identified the plane only as a Kolb ultralight plane but did not specify which model.

The planes are produced by Kolb Aircraft, a Kentucky-based manufacturer of one- and two-passenger, kit-built airplanes.

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