Small plane crashes near Apex

A plane ended up on its roof at an airstrip in Apex. (Mitch Lassiter)
August 30, 2013 8:12:49 PM PDT
A small aircraft crashed along U.S. Highway 64 and N.C. Highway 540 around 4:45 p.m. Friday evening.

? Click here for Google map of the area. ?

Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed the single engine plane upside down in a dirt area adjacent to the road.

The crash happened near Deck Air Park in the 1600 block of Airpark Drive.

"It could have been a big disaster," said eyewitness Phil Russell. "But, I mean that was just absolutely amazing there was nobody hurt. It's not unusual that they come in low. I mean they come in and just go right down in just right where the little road goes in."

Russell has lived across the street for 25 years, and is used to seeing landings. On this occasion, he was turning into his driveway just when he saw the plane approaching.

"It just hit something," said Russell. "Right as it came in low, it hit the trees or something and it just flipped right over."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison identified the pilot as 73-year-old Bryan Esterly. He's the same man registered as the plane's owner, and he also owns the nearby private landing strip.

The sheriff says Esterly was returning from a Fayetteville trip with his 14-year-old grandson when he overshot the dirt runway.

"He came in a little hot he said, which means he came in a little fast and was unable to stop and you can see there's a ravine right here," said Harrison.

"I'm sure it needs some repair, but it wasn't destroyed," said Russell.

It took Esterly's neighbors several attempts in about an hour's time to drag the 49-year-old Cessna to a hangar on his property.

The outcome of the mishap is a marvel to his neighbors.

"Another 100 feet or so and he would have been in the middle of 64 and I'm just glad that didn't happen," said Harrison.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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