LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. -- Jerry Wiese, 79, of Monroe was flying his single-engine Cessna 140 when he lost control while attempting to land on a grassy airstrip.
"I did a little downwind, and too much speed over on the runway. I took off and stalled," Wiese said.
The stalled engine kept him from gaining enough altitude. His plane ended up in a wooded area near the 3000 block of Shiloh Unity Road, across from Unity Aerodrome Airport.
“I feel a little embarrassed. I made a pilot error,” he said.
Lancaster County Fire and EMS personnel set up a command center just a few hundred feet from the plane. They quickly devised a plan to get the him out.
“Honestly, we don’t have plane in trees very often, so we kind of made up a few things and tried the best we could and improvised on scene,” said Lancaster County Fire Marshal, Stephen Blackwelder.
A crane had been brought in initially, but it couldn't get close enough through the trees. Instead, rescuers opted to use a bucket truck to reach the pilot. Wiese assisted, by strapping onto himself the harness used as part of his rescue.
Blackwelder said no one knew how long the branches would hold the weight of the plane.
The stability of the plane remained as the rescue was in progress. Officials eventually got Wiese out by using ropes and gently “swinging” him out of the cockpit.
Wiese was treated by paramedics on scene. His wife was also there to witness the rescue.
The plane remains suspended about 35 feet off the ground as FAA investigators continue their investigation.
The South Carolina State Guard will remain on the site to secure the perimeter through the night.