The pilot of a homebuilt plane deployed the craft’s parachute just before crashing Thursday at the edge of Spanaway Airport.
The Titan Tornado sport aircraft came to rest in a field a few feet from the runway, behind some houses on 192nd Street Court East. The plane seats one person and has a push propeller.
The male pilot was freed and taken to the hospital with “obvious facial and lower extremities” injuries, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue said.
The pilot’s injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, firefighters said.
The name of the pilot was not released. The plane is registered to a Spanaway man.
Eric Paez, an employee of Roy “Y” Auto Wrecking, located just west of the runway, said he sees the plane fly every day.
“We watch it take off just about every day,” he said.
On Thursday, the plane sounded as if it lost power seconds after taking off, Paez said. The craft immediately banked.
“Like he knew something was happening so he tried to come back,” Paez said.
The plane’s large orange-and-white striped parachute deployed with a loud sound when the craft was only a couple hundred feet off the ground.
“By the time he deployed his chute, he was already going down,” Paez said.
Paez jumped the fence of the wrecking yard and ran to the crash. He was first on the scene.
“As I’m running up to it I’m yelling, ‘Are you alive? Are you OK’?”
The plane was nose down, Paez said. The parachute was splayed behind the craft and still attached to the plane.
“It seemed like (the pilot) was coming out of unconsciousness,” Paez said. “He could barely talk.”
Because there was no fire, Paez didn’t try to free the pilot.
“His legs looked like they were buried in the ground,” he said.
Kodiak Wright, a nearby resident, said he heard the chute deploy followed by the sound of the crash, and within seconds, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies were arriving on scene.
Wright also was familiar with the plane.
“I see him every day,” Wright said. “He’s a really good flier.”
This is a developing story. Please check for updates.