Small plane loses power, crash-lands in Palatka

PALATKA, Fla. — A small plane crash-landed behind a Palatka home Tuesday after it lost power.

The pilot, identified by the Florida Highway Patrol as 62-year-old David Thomas, deployed an emergency parachute and landed in a yard on Dogwood Road.

Thomas was taken to Putnam Medical Center with minor injuries. Nobody on the ground was hurt.

The plane was a single-engine Cirrus model.

Thomas was flying from North Carolina to Leesburg International Airport, "when he had engine failure," according to FHP.

The FAA released a statement:

"A Cirrus SR22, aircraft crashed in a residential area in Palatka, FL at about 11:30 am. Local authorities will release the name and condition of the pilot, who was the only person on board. The FAA will release the aircraft registration after that. The flight departed from Raleigh Executive Airport in North Carolina and was headed to Leesburg, FL when the accident occurred. The FAA is investigating."

Neighbors came running out of their homes to see the crash.

"I saw him fly over the house and I heard something pretty loud and then he was low," said Jessica Crouch.

"She says 'y'all call 911, the plane's going to crash and at that time, it said 'boom,'" said Wendy Murrey.

Richard Jackson said he was in his garage when he heard an explosion and ran into his backyard to help the pilot.

"I watched it come down and thought, 'that's my yard," Jackson said. "He kept telling me, 'get back, fire,' and I said 'no, you get out.'"

Action News Jax looked to see if the plane had any previous issues. According to AviationDB.com, in 2009, the plane had issues with its alternator, but a new one was installed.

Local pilot Randy Reep says parachutes on planes are common and just like the ones people use, it slows the plane down.

"It hits the ground very similar to what you would experience in an parachute fall if you might have done this recreational. It’s not an unviolent landing, gravity wins, but better than if it were to crash into a tree or building," Reep said.

We spoke to Thomas on the phone earlier, but he had no comment on this crash.  We do know he made a call to his wife right after the crash to tell her he was all right.

The plane will be removed from the area tomorrow.