By The Associated Press
MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi helicopter pilot walked away from an emergency landing unhurt after his aircraft caught fire in midair before he set it down in an Amite County field.
The Enterprise-Journal reports Mike Fenley, a pilot with Louisville-based Custom Air, was on his way from McComb to Woodville Tuesday, where he had planned to spray timber.
The fire forced him to land the Bell OH58 helicopter in a field about a half mile from the Pike County line off Mississippi Highway 24. The fire destroyed the helicopter.
Fenley was the only occupant. Authorities said there were no chemicals on board.
Amite County Civil Defense Director Sam Walsh said a passerby at the site of the wreck notified authorities around 8:12 a.m.
“It caught fire in the air, and he was able to land it and get out of it,” Walsh said.
Walsh said officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board had been notified.
Walsh said Custom Air will handle the cleanup.
“The Lord took care of me, like He always does. I just hope He doesn’t get tired of it,” Fenley said.
Fenley said he has been a pilot since 1977, and while he has experienced other incidents in the air, he doesn’t consider this a crash.
“This wasn’t a crash. I mean, you can look at the skids. It was a perfect landing,” he said.
Local emergency responders left the scene a little more than an hour after receiving the report of the incident.