A passer-by who spotted a small crumpled plane in a Kansas farm field Thursday afternoon dialed 911 as she headed toward the wreckage to see if anyone had survived.
Impact with the ground had collapsed the engine compartment, sheared off the propeller and damaged the wings.
Yet no one was inside the single-engine, fixed-wing Maule.
As it turned out, a Cass County, Mo., pilot had walked away from the scene after crashing while en route to a business meeting in Roxbury, a small town in McPherson County abut 15 miles east of Lindsborg, Kan. Kansas Highway Patrol troopers checked area hospitals but had no luck finding the man Thursday.
When Trooper Craig Davis finally connected with the uninjured pilot by phone Friday, Davis chided the pilot for failing to notify someone immediately.
“The lady (who spotted the plane) was freaking out,” Davis said Friday. “And I told him that (leaving the scene) wasn’t fair to all these other people who have to run lights and sirens down there — and you’re not even there.”
The pilot, Randal S. Shannon of Drexel, Mo., apologized, Davis said.
Emergency responders notified the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board of the crash Thursday. Shannon told Davis that he notified those officials Friday.
The Star could not reach Shannon for comment Friday. According to FAA records, he owns three other planes in addition to the Maule.
When Davis interviewed him, Shannon said that he was trying to land on Smoky Valley Road about 1:15 p.m. when a gust of wind caught the plane and flipped it into the pasture.
It’s unclear why Shannon didn’t land at an airport in the region and borrow a courtesy car, which many small airports offer free to pilots. It’s also unclear why he tried to land on the road.
Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman with the FAA’s Kansas City office, would not discuss the incident because it remains under investigation. But pilots can land on roadways after experiencing an emergency, she said.
Shannon apparently completed his business in nearby Roxbury and caught a ride from someone afterward, Davis said.
The whole thing left Davis shaking his head.
“Who leaves a plane crashed in a field and just walks away?” he asked.