By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Timing is crucial, Ashland attorney John Booth Farese knew as his single-engine plane plummeted toward the ground.
Ninety seconds before, he’d taken off in his Cessna 182 from Holly Springs airport with something new on board – a parachute designed to slow down his fall from the sky, if he should need it.
Monday, he needed it.
“I feel like I’ve been in a fight and lost,” the well-known lawyer said from his hospital room in Regional Medical Center in Memphis, where emergency personnel ferried him from his close encounter with death.
“It all happened so fast,” he said about the crash. “The whole flight was less than a minute to 90 seconds.”
Sixty-seven-year-old Farese spoke softly on the telephone, at times, catching the emotion in his words about what seemed almost like a dream.
His wife, Cindy, who had made the phone call for him, said their family was “so grateful” for how that dream became reality.
Farese, with 44-plus years of aviation experience, took off from the airport about 5:15 p.m. Monday, headed for his own grass airstrip near Ashland. Seconds later, the plane “just quit” and began hurtling toward the forested countryside.
“It was totally out of control,” he recalled. “I could see the ground coming up at me.”
Instinct kicked in, he surmised, without thinking about the $26,000 safety system just installed that day.
“I pulled the handle and it changed the level of the plane,” he said, explaining that the four-seater now was falling parallel to the ground, not into it like a deadly knife.
He said it wasn’t a situation he’d recommend to anybody.
“It was more trying than any lawsuit I’ve ever tried,” he quipped, despite the grim circumstances of what had happened.
Farese said the plane’s impact, crashing through the trees to the ground, was so great that he didn’t know if he would survive it.
Still working on instinct, Farese said he turned off the fuel-loaded plane, pulled himself out of the wrecked aircraft, went back for his cell phone, found it and called 911.
He praised the quick response of emergency personnel and especially to the two men who came to his aid before the ambulance arrived.
He said he’s sore, his legs are banged up and he’s got a knot on his head, but feels like his good physical conditioning will help him recover rapidly.
“God has something in mind for me,” he said about his brush with death. “I had no reason to walk away.”