• Witnesses pull pilot from lake after plane lands in water

    By: Dave Faherty


    McDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. - A man flying an ultralight airplane crashed into a mountain lake, according to officials.

    One eyewitness said he could actually see the pilot waving at him frantically to get out of the way.

    The North Carolina Highway Patrol said the ultralight plane was at about 400 feet when its engine quit around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The pilot decided the only place to put it down was in Lake James.

    "They were sitting in the boat a fishing and here come a plane about 150 foot up there and then it landed right in beside them," Gary Nanney said.

    Nanney's grandsons were fishing in a cove when they spotted the plane in distress. Eyewitnesses said the pilot, Keith Wright, took his seat belt off before hitting the water.

    Within minutes, the plane sank in about 12 feet of water. Nanney's grandsons picked the pilot up and took him to shore.

    "He was lucky. He could have got his neck broke. And I'm excited of my little fellows. They could have gotten excited and run the other way but they didn't," Nanney said.

    The pilot has already recovered the ultralight from the lake. He was not injured in the accident Wednesday night.

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