BAYTOWN, Texas - A private pilot suffered a nasty cut to her head, but state troopers say she’s lucky to have survived a Saturday night plane crash in Baytown.
Linda Shackelford, a 57-year-old orthopedic surgeon who manages the bone laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, was flying alone in her Cessna when the engine stalled, troopers said. She repeatedly tried to restart the engine, then tried to glide to a landing on a Baytown street.
However, her plane came down over a thickly-wooded area where Highway 146 intersects with J.B. Lefevre Road, clipping some trees and crashing into the brush.
Even though the crash ripped the pilot’s door off the plane’s fuselage and bent the propeller, Shackelford survived and talked with emergency workers who carried her out of the woods and loaded her onto a Life Flight helicopter, troopers said.
“To boot, this is at night time,” said Richard Standifer, a trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety. “This is a non-lit area. She probably had no idea where she was going to try to land the thing. But she probably tried to keep the nose up.”
Ambulance workers working their way to the crash site made a winding path through the heavy brush. Even after the sun rose Sunday morning, only a small section of the plane was visible from the street.
“I was at awe while we were walking back there,” Standifer said. “She did a really good job of making sure that thing didn’t end up upside down or a flat nose dive.”
After an FAA investigator inspected the crash site Sunday morning, state troopers pulled Shackelford’s bags out of the downed plane and took them to her at a nearby hospital. The injured pilot suffered what Standifer described as “an ugly cut,” but otherwise she was reportedly in good spirits.
Now workers will have to figure out how to haul the plane out of the forest, a job law enforcement at the scene speculated could take days.