GATESVILLE (February 27, 2010)—The 66-year-old pilot of a single-engine aircraft was killed just after 9 a.m. Saturday when his plane slammed into a field and exploded into flames.
Authorities identified the pilot as retired Army Captain James Elbert Price, Jr. of Copperas Cove.
Gatesville fire and emergency medical service units were dispatched at 9:05 a.m. to an address on County Road 132 about 7.5 miles southwest of Gatesville where a resident reported having seen the airplane go down.
Geri Herrington and her husband live at a house on the property where the plane crashed.
She told News 10 she heard the airplane fly over her house at a very low altitude and watched as it looped and rolled in the sky.
She said she went inside with her daughter and three grandchildren to call the local airport to report the pilot, but before she could make the phone call her husband yelled at here to call 911 because the plane had gone down some 1000 yards south of the home.
Another witness told News 10 he thought the pilot experienced some kind of trouble with the airplane because he watched as the plane banked sharply left and descended rapidly, then hit the ground.
The second witness said the plane had lost all power before it hit the ground.
The crashing aircraft left a debris field about 75 yards in length, crossed a small ravine and buried itself in a thick cedar break.
Justice of the Peace Jimmy Wood said the pilot was likely killed on impact.
Firefighters doused burning cedar and brush around the crash site but some hot spots were smoldering as much as half-an-hour later.
After the fires were under control, firefighters used chain saws to begin clearing the thick cedar brush so the pilot’s body could be recovered.
Wood said paperwork recovered from the aircraft indicated the pilot took off Saturday morning from the airport at Lampasas and was likely bound for San Angelo.
The plane was a Piper Cherokee PA-28-140 that was manufactured in 1966, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
It’s a less expensive model of the same family of Piper aircraft as the small plane that Andrew Joseph Stack flew into the side of the seven-story Echelon building last week.
Texas Department of Public Safety trooper David Poston is investigating the crash.