Plane crash injures three

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Emergency services personnel inspect the wreckage of an American Cheetah airplane that crashed at Lewisburg's Ellington Airport on Saturday. Three people were injured in the crash, none seriously.

A single-engine airplane crashed shortly after takeoff at Ellington Airport on Saturday and while a witness said it somersaulted after hitting the ground, all three on board survived with minor injuries.

"We all essentially walked away," said Bob Herklotz of Columbia, the pilot and airplane owner. "All the necessary medical precautions were taken. They took us to the Maury Regional Hospital. We escaped unscathed."

Herklotz's co-pilot was Charles Glover, a former Grover Collins real estate salesman who's since moved to Michigan, but returned for a visit last week. Their passenger was Glover's grandson, David Harvey, 15.

"We lost engine power approximately three quarters down the runway and were at approximately 150 feet, so there was not a lot of time," said Herklotz, a retired Saturn power train employee.

"I thought the engine was a little stronger than it was," he said of how the motor failed to generate the power needed for continued flight. "As far as I remember (the motor) was" still running when they landed.

The plane was a "total loss," Herklotz said of the Grumman American Cheetah, described by aviation enthusiasts as fast, efficient and sporty.

Lewisburg Police Officer Seth Feinson quoted crash witness Spencer Valdez of Columbia as saying he "heard a noise and saw smoke" coming from the plane.

"Valdez saw the plane somersault several times" before it came to rest, Feinson reported.

Herklotz said the Grumman has an aluminum honeycomb structure around the entire cabin. "It's an incredibly strong structure."

John Womack, a pilot and federally licensed airframe and power plant mechanic working for Airport Manager Clay Derryberry's Big D Aviation, said it appeared that on impact, the nose gear failed and the engine hit the grass.

As a result, Womack said, there's probably enough dam . . .Pick up a copy of today's edition May 21, 2008 for full coverage.