Odessa pilot dies following crash near Spring Hill - FOX 13 News

Odessa pilot dies following crash near Spring Hill

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The ultra-light aircraft went down near the Pilot Country Airport at approximately 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. The ultra-light aircraft went down near the Pilot Country Airport at approximately 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
SPRING HILL (FOX 13) -

From his backyard Spring Hill resident Dan Ludwick watched as an ultra-light plane flew above Pilot County Airport early Sunday morning.

He immediately knew something was wrong.

"A few minutes later I heard two loud bangs," Ludwick recalled. "I told a friend of mine that it was a backfire or I hope to God he didn't hit the power lines."

Unfortunately for the pilot of the aircraft it did.

Authorities say William George Athey clipped the bottom two wires during his landing approach. The 53-year-old Odessa man was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The only eyewitness account was that the ultra-light plane appeared to be fine as it was on approach," said Pasco County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Doug Tobin. "Then it hit into the wires."

For a few hours Athey's body and his aircraft were stuck on the power lines above the roadway.

Emergency service crews had to shut down traffic on US 41 near State Road 52 and turn off power in the area to retrieve the remains.

Ludwick believes inexperience may have led to the fatal crash.

"He [Athey] had previous training in the past week but this was his first solo flight," he explained.

In hopes of avoiding similar mishaps in the future residents would like to see the lines come down for good.

Lacy Kaye, who also owns an aircraft, had recently met Athey. She says he was one of only a few ultra-light owners who flew out of Pilot Country.

Aircraft like the one Athey flew are typically home built and the pilot sits on the outside.

Kaye: "My heart goes out to him and his family."

The official cause of the crash is under investigation.

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