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Pilot Aiding Police Pursuit Shot

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AP
Hit in the head by a shot fired from the ground, pilot Mike Spicer managed, with the help of his passenger, to get his plane safely back to the Clay Center airport.

Spicer, a Clay County commissioner who manages the municipal airport, was pressed into service last Friday by authorities who were looking for a man who sped away when a deputy tried to stop him for illegal registration of his pickup truck.

Sheriff Chuck Dunn called Spicer, figuring he could get his Cessna 150 in the air near this north central Kansas community sooner than the Kansas Highway Patrol plane.

Before he took off, Spicer heard from Arnie Knoettgen, mayor of the nearby community of Morganville. Knoettgen, an emergency medical technician and a reserve deputy, volunteered to join him in the search.

Shortly after leaving the airport, Spicer spotted an abandoned truck in a ravine about three miles south of town. After a couple of passes, Spicer saw what he first thought was a feed sack in a field. But he realized it was a shirtless man in blue jeans, lying face down among the green, 12-inch plants.

Knoettgen verified that the man was the suspect and radioed the sheriff.

Spicer, 55, told The Clay Center Dispatch he was leaning forward, holding the plane in a turn when he heard a "crack" from the ground and the Plexiglass window on his left popped, but he felt nothing.

"It all happened so fast," Spicer said. "Neither one of us realized what was happening at first."

A shot fired from the ground slammed into the plane's passenger's side, whizzing by Knoettgen and striking Spicer in the forehead above his left eye.