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Pilot killed in plane crash near Hawkins County Airport

Jeff Bobo • May 15, 2020 at 3:00 PM

SURGOINSVILLE — The pilot of a single engine Ercoupe was killed Friday afternoon when he apparently clipped some trees while approaching the Hawkins County Airport and crashed in a residential yard about a quarter-mile east of the runway.

The victim was identified as James Hansford Summers, 83, from Kingsport. A family member at the scene described him for the Times News as a fixture at the airport. He reportedly had a hangar, at least two planes, and was an avid flyer.

The plane crashed in the yard of a home on West Main Street about a half-mile from the driveway entrance to the airport.

FAA statement on the crash

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement that an Ercoupe clipped a tree and crashed in the yard of a home around 2 p.m. Friday.

The FAA report states, “The aircraft was on approach to Hawkins County Memorial Airport when the accident occurred. The pilot was the only person aboard. … The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the accident.”

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the victim’s body will be taken to the ETSU Forensics Center for positive identification.

Lawson added, “It’s a very sad situation and a very dangerous situation.”

Cause of the crash

“Early indication is it seemed like he was having engine trouble, but we have the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board coming, and they’ll be doing the investigation,” Lawson said.

Surgoinsville Police Department Chief James Hammonds said the plane had taken off from the airport and was returning to the facility when the crash occurred.

Among the agencies that responded to the scene were the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, SPD, Surgoinsville Fire Department, Hawkins County EMA, Hawkins County Rescue Squad, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

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