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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Salem businessman crash-lands plane on interstate

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Staff Writer

A construction executive from Salem crash-landed his plane on a freeway exit ramp in Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 2.

Rick Cowart, president of Cowart's Construction, was flying a Cessna 182K preparing to land at Birmingham International Airport when the plane's engine lost power, Cowart said.

The Cessna hit some tree tops as it descended then clipped a power line, spilling fuel across the Interstate 20/59 exit ramp before he was able to land, he said. "We landed where we could," he added.

The plane landed on its main landing gear before it skidded into a ditch, coming to rest on its nose with the tail in the air, Cowart said.

Cowart and two passengers -- his wife Mona, and Lisa Avant, the company's accountant -- were not seriously injured, but traffic was slowed for a couple of hours along the interstate.

They were transported to Brookwood Medical Center where they were treated for scratches. He said all three were shaken up but unharmed.

The three had flown from Arkansas to transport Avant back to Birmingham where she resides. Cowart said he has been flying since 1991.

Damage occurred to the plane's propeller, landing gear, both wings and tail, Cowart said. He said he won't know if the plane is totaled until FAA is finished with its investigation.

A HazMat team was dispatched to the scene to clean up the spill.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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