Pilot: ‘I’m thankful to be alive’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 6, 2011

Scott Bell recounts plane crash one week later

CHESAPEAKE — A Huntington man says it’s only by the help of God that he and his wife survived a plane crash one week ago today.

Scott Bell and his wife, Carla, sustained minor injuries in a crash landing near the Lawrence County Airpark.

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“It was God looking out for us for sure,” Bell said.

The man and woman were planning to go for a short flight from Chesapeake to Logan, W.Va., Sunday when the plane crashed around 2 p.m.

Bell said the couple had just taken off from the Lawrence County Airpark when he noticed the plane’s engine sounded “rough.” Not wanting to take any chances, the pilot made a turn to head back to the runway for a landing. The aircraft was too high and going too fast to land on the amount of runway that was left.

“At the last second I pulled up to clear the trees,” Bell said. “The trees softened the landing.”

While the two were able to walk away from the plane crash, Bell had multiple breaks to his right wrist. His wife had a gash on her face as well as several bumps and bruises.

“I’m thankful to be alive,” Bell said.

As a pilot he knew the risks of flying but the incident gave him a new level of respect for the hobby.

“(I thought) I can’t believe it; we’re actually crashing,” the man said. “I had my eyes open the whole time. It was incredibly fast. I didn’t have time to be scared, just to hope and pray for the best. When the fear sets in is when you look back on it.”

While Bell has years of flying experience, it was only Carla’s second time. Bell said his wife will probably not fly again.

“What a terrible way for a second flight to go,” he said.

As for Scott Bell, he has not decided if he wants to fly again, but the experience has given him a new perspective on what’s important in life.

“We just became grandparents, and I think they could have lost their grandparents,” Bell said. “Maybe that’s more important than for me to go out flying.”

Bell said he does not know what caused the rented plane to have engine problems. A spokesperson from the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it could be weeks before an investigation into the crash is completed.