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Pilot grateful for fast response after crash

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Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012 9:28 pm | Updated: 5:13 pm, Sat Jun 16, 2012.

REXBURG — A pilot who walked away with minor injuries after his stunt plane crashed Friday in a nearby golf course had a humorous apology for golfers on Saturday.

"I apologize to the golfers for the divot I left," said pilot Buck Roetman. "Golfers are pretty touchy about that kind of stuff."

Roetman, of Sharpsburg, Ga., rode away from the crash site on an ATV and was placed into an ambulance at the scene. He could later be seen sitting up and smiling while receiving medical attention from Madison Fire Department paramedics.

Roetman was later transported to Madison Memorial Hospital where he was treated for an injured ankle he sustained during the crash, which happened shortly before 8:30 p.m. Officials from the FAA were already on scene and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to be notified soon after the crash.

It's the first known crash at the Legacy Air Show, an annual event for Rexburg attracting aerobatic pilots and vintage aircraft from all over the country.

He said he came out of the crash with only a sprained ankle and a few scrapes. 

"Other than that I'm fine," he said Saturday.

However he said the plane, with an estimated value of $80,000, is probably a total loss.

Asked about the cause of the crash, he said the plane lost thrust probably due to a problem with regulating the pitch of the propeller.

"Just guessing at this point, but I lost some thrust," he said. "The engine was still running but I believe it was a propeller issue. ...If I'd had another 300 to 400 feet I probably could have recovered it."

Roetman said the EMTs and firefighters who responded did so quickly and professionally.

"I was floored when they showed up as quick as they did," he said. He also thanked the emergency room staff at Madison Memorial Hospital for their quick and expert assistance.

Friday night's dinner was supposed to be a casual affair with sponsors and their guests lined up back of the taxiway.

Then the unthinkable happened.

A video shot by pilot Rick Robinson before the crash shows the the red Christen Eagle stunt biplane doing a series of rolls before descending unexpectedly toward a group of trees next to the airport.

As the plane drops from the sky still rolling, onlookers can be heard saying, "oh my gosh" and "are you kidding me?" Toward the end of the video, you can see the plane disappear into a stand of trees next to the airport.

Standard Journal reporter Joseph Law, who captured the photo of the plane in trouble with a steep glide angle just before it crashed, said he could see a "puff of dust" and "pieces were flying off the plane."

Robinson said he began receiving texts soon after the crash from people thinking it was him. He's had his single-engine certification for a year and a half.

"When people know you're a pilot, they look after you," Robinson said.

Brad DeBow, an official with the Legacy Air Show, said Roetman appeared to be aiming for a clear spot on the edge of the Rexburg Municipal Golf Course, which sits just east of the airport.

"At the Legacy Flight Museum, we're glad it had a good outcome for the pilot Buck Roetman," DeBow said. "He did some skillful maneuvering to put it down in a safe spot."

The plane was seriously damaged in the crash with both right wings crumpled, but it came to rest in an upright position with the landing gear collapsed beneath the aircraft.

Emergency personnel immediately cordoned off the crash site while onlookers gathered to take photos and record the scene.

 

 

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