The pilot of a single engine Cirrus S-22 plane feels fortunate to be alive after crashing near downtown Birmingham.
Billy Wayne Sprague of Key West, Fla. was flying back from Kansas City, Mo. with a passenger. As Sprague tried to land for refueling at the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport, he realized something was wrong and he was not going to make it.
"I looked over my left shoulder and I saw a vacant lot. I told my passenger that that was where we needed to land. I didn't have any control over it but we needed to land. Then I got close, I say the power lines," Sprague said.
The plane is still resting in a vacant field near Sloss Furnace. Sprague says a key factor for surviving was deploying the plane's chute which allowed the plane to land safely.
"It's a last resort. Once you use it, the plane has to be majorly repaired or it's totaled," Sprague said.
The female passenger suffered only minor injuries and has since returned to Florida. Sprague says the plane now belongs to the insurance company. The 60-year-old general contractor says he plans to returns to the skies in the future but with a greater appreciation for life.
"You appreciate every day now. You really do. If I didn't pull the chute, I wouldn't be here doing this interview. No question in my mind," Sprague said.
Sprague says he appreciates the hospitality he received in Birmingham. He was especially thankful to the Birmingham Fire
and Police Departments along with emergency services personnel. Sprague says Mayor William Bell even came out the plane crash and welcomed him to Birmingham.
Sprague spent his last day in Birmingham having lunch at Dreamland Bar-B-Que.
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