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Greensboro plane crash: Pilot says he's 'surprised' he walked away from it

Wesley Parker said he was coming in for landing when the engine stumbled. He said that's when his 50 years of flying experience kicked into gear.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Wesley Parker has a lot of experience flying. He’s been doing it for 50 years.

When his small single-engine plane went down Thursday afternoon in a Greensboro neighborhood, he said those years of experience kicked into gear.

“I was surprised I walked away from it,” Parker said.

The veteran pilot survived after crashing between two homes on Birkdale Drive.

“It started out just doing some practice flights at the Greensboro international, and I took off - everything was normal. I was flying around. I was about halfway around, coming in for landing again, and the engine stumbled a little bit and caught my ear, and I was like what was that?” Parker said.

Credit: Wesley Parker
Wesley Parker is OK after crashing his plane into a Greensboro neighborhood.

He said about 20 seconds later, his engine quit.

“So, I went through all of my emergency procedures, as you’re supposed to do. I checked my fuel. I checked if the fuel pumps were on. I checked everything out and actually got it to restart, and it ran for probably 30 seconds and then it quit again,” Parker said.

The starting and stopping continued a few more times. Parker went through his emergency procedures each time.

“The last time it restarted, just before it hit the trees, and maybe a couple seconds at the most, all of my training started to kick in, and you’re supposed to fly the airplane; you don’t quit flying it until it can’t fly anymore, you fly it all the way into the ground - and that’s what I did. I flew it all the way down and once I got into the trees, it was still kind of out of control at that point,” Parker explained.

Credit: Wesley Parker
This was Wesley Parker's plane before it crashed.

Parker said he was in the air for only a couple of minutes, maybe four.

He said this flight was a test run to make sure he could go on a much longer trip.

“I was getting ready to ferry the airplane across country, and so I wanted to make sure there were no problems,” he said.

Parker said that trip won’t be happening now.

The plane landed between two homes. It broke a window and damaged some siding on one of the houses. Parker said he’s glad no one was hurt.

“You try to aim for the space between the two houses and that’s what I got,” he said.

Parker said there wasn’t any time to be scared.

“I have a lot of people asked me if it scared me and I said no. I was just thinking about it all the way until I hit, and I was just thinking about it - fly the airplane, fly the airplane,” he said.

Credit: Wesley Parker
Wesley Parker (right) survived his plane crashing in a Greensboro neighborhood.

Parker said his airplane is likely a total loss, but he’s thankful he’s OK.

“I got a couple of scrapes on my leg. I got a couple of scrapes on my back - I think it was from tree branches, but I’m doing good. I’ve been walking around. How can I argue?” he said.

Despite the crash, this aviator isn’t done taking to the skies just yet.

“Not even for a minute…I had this belief that when your time is up, it’s up and you can be sitting at home in your living room, and you are going to die or you can go out and live life,” Parker said.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash. No neighbors were hurt.

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