Pilot crashes into a tree in Sanford

Crews had to rescue a man after he flew his paramotor into a tree

August 22, 2011 4:25:22 AM PDT
A pilot in Lee County was counting his blessings Sunday.

Crews had to rescue the man after he flew his paramotor into a tree around 11 a.m.

The pilot Jonathan Brandon told ABC11 he still can’t believe he walked away without a scratch.

“I don’t know how I did it, don’t know how I came out without a scratch on me,” he said. “I was lucky.”

Brandon had just launched his powered paraglider from the Raleigh Executive Jetport off Rod Sullivan Road in Sanford. He said that’s when he started to realize something was wrong.

“I was coming through, I skimmed a couple trees right there, and I didn’t clear that tree and flew into it pretty much,” Brandon said.

He said he came to Sanford from Virginia to launch his paramotor for the first time.

Brandon said he hadn’t gained enough altitude as he approached the trees and that’s what caused him to get stuck in one a few feet from the airport. He also landed dangerously close to a railroad track.

“At that moment, what was going through my head was whether a train was gonna hit me or not,” he said.

Volunteers from the Sanford Fire Department helped Brandon get down. The pilot said he takes blame for the crash, but knows it could have been a lot worse.

“It was scary cause I was flying probably 20mph and I knew I was gonna hit something, luckily it happened to be some trees there, [that] saved my fall,” Brandon said.

The pilot was still trying to retrieve his paramotor from the tree Sunday evening.

He said while his first run didn’t go as well as planned, he hopes to fly it again soon.

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