FRANKLIN COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- Maurice Evans had only 14 hours of training under his belt when he went up in the air last Thursday in Franklin County.
According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the 45-year-old Bunn resident was practicing landings and takeoffs when something went terribly wrong.
Evans was making his base turn when he overshot the runway and attempted to correct himself, which caused his plane to stall.
With less than 900 feet between him and the ground, Evans' Evektor SportStar plane began spiraling down into the woods. The wings of his plane clipped several trees on the way down and brought the plane to rest with less than a foot between the nose of the plane and the ground.
"That's probably a one in 10,000 crash," Evans said. "You could crash 10,000 planes in the way I crashed it. And I'm probably the only one that will survive that."
The former pastor credited his faith for being able to walk away from the crash. "If it had not been for the Lord, who was on my side that day, we would be talking a different story that day," he added. "You wouldn't be talking to me, because the force of the plane crash would have killed me."
What happened to Evans is not uncommon. What is common is that when this happens to most pilots, they are flying well about 1,000 feet. "When you're 500 to 800 feet off the ground, you can't recover from a base to final stall. You just don't survive those," he said.
There is an acronym appropriately fitted for Evans in that situation, as well as other others. "You PRAY," Evans said. "P stands for power to idle. R is give (the plane) opposite rudder of the direction of the spin. A is to neutralize your aileron. And Y is to put your yoke forward."
Evans plans to return to flying once he practices controlled stalled spins with an aviation expert. He needs at least 20 hours of training before he moves into the next phase of obtaining his pilot's license. "Not flying is not really an option. Because once you start running from what scares you, you'll never stop running from what scares you. You'll live a life of total fear," he said.
Recalling the crash, Evans said he only suffered a scratch. The brake rod narrowly missed piercing his foot. Instead, the rod went straight through his shoes between his first and second toes. Evans said, "You can't run from death, it just wasn't there for me that day."
"There was so many ways that (crash) could have been prevented," Evans recalled. "I could have just went around. I could have just kept going when I knew I wasn't going to make the runway."
Perhaps a sermon title for this former pastor's brush with death --
"BY THE SKIN OF MY TEETH! Because that's how I survived," Evans said.