LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – A 78-year-old Lincoln County man was rescued Thursday morning after crashing his small plane into trees near his home.
Mike Fleming began his morning like he often does, piloting his ultralight FireFly single-engine plane from a small airstrip next to his home, located deep in the woods of Lincoln County.
Fleming soon found himself hanging from a tree at the Woodland Airstrip along Wolf Creek Road.
“Anytime you walk away, you’re happier than a pig in poop,” Fleming said.
After crashing, Fleming climbed out to a tree branch and waited for help. Central County Fire and Rescue out of St. Peters was the first to arrive at the scene. Matt Conoyer, who has over a decade of tree-climbing experience, said he’s trained for these types of rescues.
“I ascended the tree. We had guys on the ground. They put a safety harness on me and we made sure he has a safety harness on as well,” Conoyer said. “Plus, the safety strap secured to him and the tree. So he couldn’t fall, at that point.”
Surprisingly, Fleming was not injured. Once on the ground, he shook hands with his rescuer and then gave his wife, Linda, a huge hug.
“Well, I wanted to get him back out here on the ground. He’s pretty strong,” she said.
Once on the ground, Fleming explained what went wrong.
“I pushed the throttle down, I was trying to get (the plane) to work better. It finally caught, started out I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to make it,’ then whop, nope,” he said. “There’s some taller ones I can make, so that’s all there was to it.”
Fleming also walked away from a plane crash he had two years ago outside his home.