Witnesses help rescue pilot, 84, from fiery plane crash


MORGANTON, N.C. — Two people helped an 84-year-old pilot get to safety after a plane crashed in Burke County, North Carolina Monday afternoon, according to officials, CBS Raleigh affiliate WNCN reported.

The crash happened Monday afternoon. Burke County emergency responders tweeted a picture that shows the aircraft on the ground engulfed in flames.

The pilot, John Henry Shell Sr., was able to get to safety with the help of two witnesses, Tyler Woodard and Brian Stevens, who saw the crash and rushed over. Shell was out of the aircraft, a Superior T6, but needed help getting away from the burning plane. No one else was in the aircraft.

Woodard said he knew something was wrong when he saw the plane circling and heard the engine sputtering near his apartment building.

“It hit the trees and exploded in flames,” he said.

Woodard and Stevens went running to see if they could help.

“There was a lot of fire,” Stevens said.


When they got to the plane Shell was stumbling out of the aircraft. Woodward said they grabbed his arms and helped him get away from the burning wreckage.

“He is very lucky to be alive,” Morganton Public Safety Chief Ronnie Rector said.

Shell was taken to a nearby hospital before being transferred to a medical center in Charlotte.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane is owned by John H. Shell, Sr. from Morganton. The plane, which is listed as “experimental” was manufactured in 2010.

Federal investigators will be on scene Tuesday looking into what may have caused the crash.