Pilot identified in fatal Giles County plane crash - WSMV Channel 4

Pilot identified in fatal Giles County plane crash

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PULASKI, TN (WSMV) -

The pilot of a single-engine plane was killed Tuesday morning shortly after take off, say local officials.

The small homemade plane had just left Abernathy Field in Pulaski when it crashed around 8 a.m. near Highway 11, said Randy Jones, the manager at the airport.

Cliff Joseph Rosa, 24, originally of Carle Place, NY, and most recently of Huntsville, AL, was the only person on board at the time of the crash.

Rosa, an Army veteran, had reportedly purchased the small, red homemade aircraft he crashed in. Rosa served in the U.S. Army aviation unit from July 2007 to April 2012, and was deployed for a year in Iraq.

Witnesses said when the plane took off, it circled, began to nosedive and was on fire before it hit the ground.

"It just kind of slowly angled down and hit the pavement," said witnesses Wanda Williams.

The plane landed about 40 yards from Williams' car as she returned home from Walmart.

"The Lord was protecting me this morning. In less than a minute, I could've been under that plane," she said.

The plane also came within yards of a furniture store.

"What we understand is that the plane was possibly trying to turn back to the airport," said Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Miller.

Williams, who called 911 to report the crash, says she feels thankful she wasn't hurt or killed, but says her heart is heavy for the pilot who didn't have a chance.

"The tragic part of it is he lost his life today," she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, and an autopsy will be performed.

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