Posted: Aug 2, 2011 5:29 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - Federal investigators are looking for what caused a small plane to crash over the weekend shortly after takeoff from the St. Landry Parish Airport in Opelousas.
The Federal Aviation Administration was notified after the single-engine plane crashed about 11 a.m. Saturday.
The pilot, 52-year-old Arnold Reed Johnstone, of Tulsa, Okla., was treated at Opelousas General Health System for mild to moderate injuries and released Saturday afternoon. Det. Darren Zachary of the Opelousas Police Department said Johnstone, a retired commercial pilot, was the only occupant in the four-passenger plane.
St. Landry Parish Director of Administration Jessie Bellard told The Daily World (http://bit.ly/pD2csg ) that the crash happened after the plane appeared to lose power.
Johnstone tried to make an emergency landing on a dirt road between a soybean field and a line of trees, Bellard said.
Upon landing, he said, the plane's right wing appears to have struck the trees. The right wing tip had been sheared off and was lying with other debris near the landing point.
The impact caused the small plane to begin a 180-degree spin,
coming to rest in the trees about 30- to 40- feet away.
Some of the landing gear from the heavily-damaged aircraft was lying in the middle of the dirt road. The plane had stopped parallel to a deep canal on the other side of the trees. The plane's left door was no more than 5 feet from the edge of the drop-off.
The airport was closed to all air traffic immediately after the accident, Bellard said.
"It didn't affect the runways. ...It actually has no bearing on what we do, where it's sitting, but the (Federal Aviation Administration) wants to make sure it's shut down" for safety concerns, Bellard said.
Authorities said the runways were reopened late Saturday.
The aircraft had been sold by a Krotz Springs resident to a buyer from another state. It had been completely refurbished, inside and out, Bellard said.
Johnstone had been hired to ferry the plane north to Minnesota, he added.