Pilot, passenger describe hard landing in experimental craft - WSMV Channel 4

Pilot, passenger describe hard landing in experimental craft

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LAFAYETTE, TN (WSMV) -

The pilot and passenger who survived a hard landing in an experimental plane Sunday said they realized not long after take-off that their flight was in trouble, but all they could do was brace for the impact they knew was inevitable.

David Gregory and his girlfriend Cynthia Meador expected to take a 45-minute flight to Dale Hollow Lake from the Lafayette Airport, but the Drifter couldn't gain altitude. After climbing to about 100 or 150 feet, Gregory said the wing started to dip and the field below was coming up fast.

 "When you see the dirt coming at you at 60, 70 mph, and there's nothing you can do about it, it's not a good feeling," Gregory said.

"I said, 'David, can you land it?' He said, 'I'm trying baby, I'm trying,'" Meador said.

"Probably 20 feet off the ground I realized we weren't going to make it," Gregory said.

The pontoon hit first and collapsed, which Gregory thinks helped cushion the blow.

His head hit the dashboard, bruising his face.

"He was just up there, going back and forth like a dishrag. And I just knew he was dead," Meador said.

Meador is recovering from a badly bruised pelvis, but they are both expected to recover.

Despite the terrifying experience, Gregory said he's eager to replace his demolished Drifter with a new one.

"I feel bad because I destroyed my airplane and hurt somebody I care about, but I'll fly again. I can't wait to get in the air," Gregory said.

Meador said when he does, she'll be right behind him.

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