Danger, Reprieve In The Skies

When an airplane goes into a nose dive, crash lands and bursts into flames - and the three people on board walk away relatively unscathed - one could justifiably call it a minor miracle.

That's what happened Sunday morning at Indiana's Greenwood Municipal Airport, say Indiana state police.

Pilot Duane Harrington of Indianapolis was trying to land the 1975 Beach Sundowner single-engine plane just before it crashed at 11:30 a.m.

Firemen arrived quickly and put out the flames.

Only one passenger, Ronald Baier of Greenwood, was taken to the hospital with minor back injuries. He was released after treatment. Harrington suffered minor burns, and the other passenger Karl Derr of Indianapolis was not injured.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the crash. At this point, police don't think mechanical problems or weather were factors in the crash.

All three people on board were licensed pilots.

In another dramatic incident in the skies Sunday, a U.S. Airways Express plane carrying 25 people was forced to make an emergency landing in Gainesville, Fla., after it was hit by lightning.

Officials say the twin-turboprop plane was en route from Tampa to Pensacola Sunday night, when it was struck by lightning shortly after take off.

Two generators were knocked out, forcing the plane to continue on battery power. The 22 passengers and three crew members landed safely at Gainesville Regional Airport.

Passengers were later loaded into taxicab vans or rental cars for the trip to Pensacola.