Man rescues 82-year-old pilot from fiery plane crash in Charlton County

Charlton County, Ga. — An 82-year-old pilot was saved from a fiery plane crash in Charlton County in Georgia Tuesday night.

Only Action News Jax talked to the man who rescued him moments after the plane burst into flames along Highway 121 in Folkston.

Michael Robinson is a local commercial airline pilot who lives in the area with his wife.

All of a sudden, he heard a giant crash near Highway 121.

“A friend told me he heard an airplane flying over low. He called on the phone. I opened the window. I don’t hear an airplane WHAM. It was a crack you know that hollow-sounding metal hitting a tree sort of thing,” Robinson said.

The plane went down near Davis Field Airport.

The Charlton County Sheriff’s Office told Action News Jax the pilot, an 82-year-old man missed the runway and hit a high voltage pole.

That caused the plane to burst into flames.

Within seconds Robinson and his wife came to that man’s rescue and pulled him out of the plane.

“There were flames around his legs and such. It was scary but you got to do it. You’re scared everything’s going to blow up around you too, but you got to get the guy out,” Robinson said.

That pilot was airlifted to UF Health in Jacksonville with serious injuries.

The FAA arrived on the scene Wednesday morning to investigate. It’s working with the NTSB to determine the cause of the crash.

Robinson thinks part of the problem is the runway lights at the Davis Field airport don’t work.

“That’s why lights at an airport are very important these have been broken a lot. They’re brand new and they’ve been broken a lot,” he said.

Action News Jax did reach out to Charlton County and checked the FAA website.

A NOTAM was issued on September 22, 2021 letting pilots know that the runway lights would be turned off.

In aviation, a NOTAM helps alert pilots of any potential hazards along their flight path.

Hampton Raulerson the county administrator told Action News Jax the manufacturer’s lights were “unreliable” which is why that notice was issued to give pilots a heads up while it works to fix the problem.

“It is pitch black. It is like flying in a bottle of black ink, there’s no lights around on the ground,” Robinson said.

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