News Plane Crashes — 30 September 2017

A 71-year-old pilot is recovering at a local hospital on Friday, a day after his plane crashed in the Ocala National Forest.

Herb Francis Clark Jr. was listed in stable condition at Ocala Regional Medical Center, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The Weirsdale man was transported to the hospital after he and his single-engine biplane aircraft were found by Marion County Fire Rescue officials in the 7400 block of South County Road 314A, not far from the roadway.

Fire officials said that when they arrived at the location at 7:21 p.m. Thursday, Clark already was out of the plane and was conscious, alert and talking.

According to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office report, Clark told a deputy that he took off from Hobby Hill Airstrip in Weirsdale. The deputy said he never got a reason on why the plane crashed. Clark told the deputy that he only had 15 to 20 gallons of fuel.

The plane was nose down in the ground. No one seems to know Clark’s destination.

Deputies notified Federal Aviation Administration officials about the crash and were told that the agency would inspect the wreckage on Friday.

One resident who lives in the Woods and Lakes Airpark, a flying community not far from the crash site, told the Star-Banner on Friday that Clark has friends in their community and he comes and goes.

Marty Harris, president of the flying community, told the Star-Banner that Clark told a friend that he knew he wasn’t going to make it to his landing strip, so he decided to find a safe area to land. Harris said he’s glad Clark is alive and he did a superb job in landing the plane under difficult circumstances.

Harris said Clark had used his seat belt, which is described as what race drivers use to protect themselves from serious injuries.

At the Hobby Hill Airstrip, two men who worked with Clark restoring airplanes described Clark as an experienced pilot. Clark could not be reached for comment.

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