Watch CBS News

Pilot In Small Plane Crash Near Tipton Airport Shares Survival Story

FORT MEADE, Md. (WJZ) -- One of the pilots trapped when their small plane went down near Fort Meade has just been released from the hospital. He's giving WJZ his account of how he survived that crash in the woods.

Rick Ritter has his story.

The pilot just got out of the hospital Friday. He's upbeat and in good spirits, but says he's certainly very lucky to be alive.

A broken sternum fractured vertebrae and bruises all over. Jeff Barnett, 57, can barely move.

"You hit the trees at about 65, 70 miles-per-hour. After that, fate kind of takes over," he said.

Fate that helped the longtime pilot live to tell his dramatic story.

"I keep telling him it was a miracle," his wife, Melissa Barnett, said.

Sunday afternoon, Barnett's single-engine plane spiraled down into the woods near the Tipton Airport. On board--his close friend, 82-year-old Thomas Cline.

Rescuers scrambled to pull the two from the submerged wreck. They were both rushed to Shock Trauma.

"Tom said, 'Hey Jeff, we've alive. We're alive,'" said Barnett.

Barnett described what he called a beautiful day for flying that quickly turned disastrous after taking off.

"As we approached the trees, maybe 50 feet above them, the engine began to lose power," he said.

Leaving the Glen Burnie pilot with just moments to make a life-saving move.

"In this case we had all of ten seconds," he said. "The only choice was to settle down into the trees. It was a noisy, rough ride down. My only hope is that it would land upright, and we didn't."

With a smile, Barnett said he never doubted his experience in the life or death moment.

Ritter: "Was there a time when you didn't think you would make it out alive?"

Barnett: "I would like to think that superior skill took us down and caused it to be a survivable accident."

A traumatic collision that would keep many off a plane for the rest of their lives—but not Barnett.

"It's part of our lives, so we're not going to give that up, of course," he said.

Thomas Cline remains at Shock Trauma in fair condition.

The NTSB took the lead on the investigation. Still no word on what exactly caused the engine to start losing power.

Officials say the plane was registered to both Barnett and the passenger.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.