An Alabama pilot landing at Thomaston-Upson Airport Friday morning for gas spent longer on the ground than he planned when his experimental plane’s nose gear collapsed as he landed on the runway. He was uninjured in the crash.
The pilot, identified as Jeff Cochran of Talladega, AL, said he was flying to South Carolina in his bright yellow and green Zen Vair CH570 STOL single engine plane when he stopped for gas at the airport about 8:45 a.m. Cochran said he landed a little harder than planned and his nose gear collapsed, halting the plane nose down near the beginning of the runway.
Several passing drivers, as well as someone from nearby Quad/Graphics saw the crash and rushed to assist him, but Cochran had gotten out of the plane by himself before they got there. With assistance from a couple of his would be rescuers, Cochran lowered the tail of the lightweight plane and they walked it off of the runway onto a nearby taxiway.
The CH570 is a two-seater plane than can be built from a kit. It is a Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) plane that can land at airports, in fields, or, if equipped with pontoons, on water. Designed in 2008, it is considered a Light Sport Aircraft.
Sheriff Dan Kilgore and several deputies, Rock Hill VFD, Upson EMS, and Georgia Forestry responded to the scene after a passerby called 911. Cochran refused treatment and spent the morning waiting for friends to arrive to help transport the aircraft for repair.