Shortly after taking off from Skylark Field on Saturday morning, an experienced pilot noticed his experimental plane was losing power.
By the time Brian Douglas, 56, of Killeen, was about three-quarters of a mile from the runway, the pilot of 10 years decided he needed to turn around and head back.
Before he could make it, the plane lost power and he had to make an emergency landing from about 400 feet in the air.
“I went into the trees,” said Douglas, who spent five years building the Bradley Aerobat from an airplane kit.
Douglas, a Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant mechanic, said he was too busy focusing on safety to worry. He landed the aircraft in a heavily wooded area northeast of Skylark Field, behind the Fast Eddies Tire Repair business. No one was injured.
After calling 911 about 9:30 a.m., Douglas waited for the Killeen police and fire departments and the Texas Department of Public Safety to locate him in the area of Roy Reynolds and Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
“I did not know how high off the ground I was,” he said, adding officers were unable to see where the plane landed.
Officers searched for several minutes until they heard the pilot, who guided them to his location about six feet in the air.
“I haven’t been able to get the airplane out. It’s still in the trees,” he said Saturday night. “I’m in one piece and doing good.”
The crash hasn’t deterred him from flying. “But, my wife says I’m not doing anymore experimental airplanes,” Douglas said.