By the time emergency personnel arrived at the site of a Kansas plane crash this week, the uninjured pilot already had:
Cleaned his personal belongings out of the plane.
Walked to a nearby bank.
Attended a business meeting.
Called federal aviation and transportation officials.
And caught a ride out of town.
The pilot, Randy Shannon, had no idea that local authorities considered him “missing” after a passerby spotted the crumpled plane Thursday afternoon in a field near Roxybury, Kan., and called 911.
By then, the crash already was two hours old, Shannon told The Star on Saturday.
Shannon, a Drexel, Mo,. businessman and rancher, said he didn’t report the incident to local authorities because he had not damaged anyone’s property and he had not been injured. After walking about five minutes into the small McPherson County town of Roxbury, he told bank employees what had happened, where the plane was, and that he was OK, in case anyone asked. Other than the bank, there’s not much in Roxbury, Shannon said.
Yet later, Kansas Highway Patrol troopers checked hospitals in larger towns looking for the “missing” pilot.
On Friday, a trooper told The Star that Shannon had waited to call the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board until the day after crash.
Shannon told The Star he called both agencies after finishing his business meeting.
He owns several planes and flies often to handle business interests he has from Nebraska to mid-Missouri and across middle and eastern Kansas.
On Thursday, he flew his single-engine, fixed-wing Maule because it can take off and land in less than 200 feet and has special tires for rough terrain, which makes it perfect for off-airport landings.
“I can fly into KCI with it or land it in the back yard of my farm at Alma, Kansas, and go fishing or check on the cows,” Shannon said.
“Most people think airplanes just take off and land at airports. That’s certainly not true in rural areas.”
He already had landed Thursday morning at two airports — in Fort Scott, Kan., and Camdenton, Mo., — and borrowed courtesy cars from the airports to do chores there before taking off for Roxbury, Shannon said. Since there’s no airport within a 30 to 40 minute drive from Roxbury, he decided to land on a roadway and taxi to a parking spot.
As he neared touchdown about 1:15 p.m. on Smoky Valley Road, a wind gust or wind shear turned the plane sideways, Shannon said. The left wing hit the ground first, which sent the plane cartwheeling into a field. The plane stopped in an upright position, with a crumpled engine compartment, two damaged wings and a torn off propeller.
After his meeting, Shannon asked the bank president to drive him to the airport at Herington, Kan., where he keeps a pickup truck. From there, he drove home to Missouri and called friends to let them know he was OK.
Looking back, he thinks he should have made one more call to report a non-injury plane crash.
“In hindsight, I wish I had called 911,” he said.
Then, perhaps, no one would have considered him missing.