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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

90-year-old pilot injured in experimental aircraft crash

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cloverdale native Vernon Bothwell, 90, was involved in a plane crash on Tuesday afternoon when the aircraft he was piloting experienced motor failure minutes after takeoff. Bothwell was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
CLOVERDALE -- Fellow pilots are praising a veteran Putnam County flyer after he walked away from a plane crash Tuesday afternoon.

Vernon E. Bothwell Jr., 90, Cloverdale, was injured when his 1986 fixed wing, single engine, model "Woody Pusher" crashed in an open field near the 2400 block of East County Road 1000 South.

While some might point to Bothwell's age as a contributing factor in the crash, fellow members of Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1374 point to Bothwell's 70 years of flight as a reason he walked away.

Vernon Bothwell
"Vern did an excellent job of putting the plane down where it would do no damage to persons or property on the ground," EAA 1374 President Duane Skoog said. "Once the plane is moved, the only way you'll know a plane did a forced landing there is a 4-foot scrape in the grass where the landing gear caught. He is a pilot's pilot."

The Indiana State Police and Putnam County emergency agencies responded to the crash at 3:33 p.m.

Bothwell told investigators, family and friends the plane experienced a sudden engine failure at approximately 800 feet. With little time to think, he chose an open spot just east of Stardust Hills and north of Burma Road and navigated toward it.

In making his approach, he avoided a church, an apartment building and a couple of power lines.

Bothwell appears to have successfully completed the emergency landing, but a wheel of the craft caught on the ground, causing the plane to flip onto its top.

"If he just had a little bit of good luck in a smoother field, we wouldn't even be talking about it," EAA member and Airport Board President J.R. Scott said.

He was scratched up a bit when the plane flipped, but his most significant injuries came when he freed himself from his harnesses and fell to the ground.

The pilot was taken to the Putnam County Hospital for treatment of a possible ankle fracture and head laceration. His injuries did not immediately appear to be life threatening.

Both Skoog and Scott reported Bothwell being in good spirits at the hospital.

"He did a fantastic job of landing the plane," Scott said. "When you're 800 feet from the ground, you don't have much time to think."

Bothwell had taken off just minutes earlier from his private airstrip, Clover Knoll, near 4561 S. CR 325 West, Cloverdale, approximately two miles from the crash site.

Bothwell is an experienced pilot dating back to World War II. He volunteered for service in June 1941, prior to the U.S. entering the war. He began his service to the Army Air Corps as a mechanic, but was selected by his commanding officer to enter multiple engine flight school.

He earned his wings and went on to command a Martin B-26 medium bomber as well as a P-51 Mustang.

In civilian life, Bothwell earned his Private Pilot's License, Aircraft and Engine Certificate (A&E), and Inspection Authorization Certificate (IA). He has amassed more than 4,500 hours of flight time in multiple types of aircraft.

"In my opinion, the reason he walked away is he's been flying for 70 years," fellow EAA member Jack Sutton said. "He did exactly what he was supposed to do and didn't get flustered."

The Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead in the investigation.

The plane must remain in place until the FAA approves the move.

The ISP crash investigation was completed by Senior Trooper DuJuan Presley-McFadden.

Assisting were the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, Putnam County EMS, Cloverdale Fire/Rescue, Cloverdale Police Department and the FAA.

Skoog probably summed up the feelings of everyone best in assessing Bothwell's ability to walk away from the crash.

"He is one heck of a pilot."

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So glad that it turned out the way it did. I have met this man on a number of occassions and marvel at how well he gets around and how quick his mind is! Great job!!!

-- Posted by chicki1112 on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 9:25 AM


-- Posted by lhmh on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 10:31 AM

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