Small airplane crashes in Wake County

ANGIER, N.C. (WTVD) -- A pilot from Angier escaped serious injury when his small airplane crashed on Tuesday afternoon.

The plane crashed just after 1:15 p.m. off Highway 55 north of Angier, just south of Maude Stewart Road in Wake County. The crash site is located just behind a Dollar General store.

It's unclear at this time what caused the plane to crash.

Eyewitnesses to the crash told ABC11 that the pilot hit a tree and a flock of birds before crashing. They also said it appeared the pilot was coming in for a landing. The Fuquay-Varina/Angier airfield on Highway 55 is about 100 yards away from where the crash happened.

The Highway Patrol said Whipple crashed through several trees in the wooded area.

"It was an older guy, kind of elderly," said Jaquan Dupree, who saw the crash. "But he was alive though, so that was like the main part, and they helped him get out of the plane and then they called 911.

The Highway Patrol said the pilot, 78-year-old Rodney Whipple, was taken to WakeMed and is being treated for minor injuries.

No one else was injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been called to conduct a crash investigation. State troopers remain on the scene to secure the aircraft as federal authorities make their way to the crash site.

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