Jerry Wiese walked away from a plane crash Thursday without a scratch on him. The 79-year-old pilot told Channel 9 he didn't even take a pain reliever Thursday night and slept fine.
"It was just a lucky break," Wiese said. "I think everybody's had a scrape or two. It's not unusual."
What he calls a scrape could've ended his life. The plane slammed into several trees a few hundred yards from a private airstrip on Shiloh Unity Road where he had taken off from.
When the small two-seater Cessna 140 crashed it wasn't the cockpit that struck the trees, but only the wing tips of the plane. Both wings got caught in the tree branches, suspending the plane in the air. That bizarre situation likely saved Wiese's life.
Wiese said while sitting there waiting for rescue he was only thinking of one thing: how long the plane would hang in the tree tops.
"I was kind of hoping the wing tips would hold up because it was still a long way to the ground, you know," he said.
The crash was discovered in minutes because long-time friend Les Canna was at the nearby hangar, and heard it.
"I called 911, jumped in my plane and went to locate it. It took me forever to find it," Canna said.
"But he didn't give up. He didn't give up until he found me," Wiese said.
Firefighters and rescue crews brought in a bucket truck to reach the plane and make sure Wiese was OK. After about two and a half hours stuck more than 40 feet up, he was lowered down to the ground on ropes where his wife was waiting for him.
"I'm fine. No problems at all," he said with a smile.
The Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating the crash and has not released the cause. Wiese, however, told Channel 9 the plane was in good shape, was working normally and did not experience any mechanical failure. He would not comment about what happened during the crash because of the pending investigation.
The plane is still stuck in the trees and will require a large crane to bring it down. It's not clear yet just when that will happen.
Wiese got his license to fly a plane in 1954. He took a long break from the air, but got back into flying about a decade ago. Now he flies almost every week.
Though he's lost his plane, he hasn't lost his love for flying. He doesn't expect to stay grounded for long.
"I don't think so. Unless there are some things I don't know about," he said, laughing.