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Pasco pilot seriously injured in crash

Fire Rescue personnel work near a plane crash on the runway at Tampa North Executive Airport in Wesley Chapel on Thursday. Pilot Robert Erickson, 68, was injured.

JANEL SCHROEDER-NORTON | Times

Fire Rescue personnel work near a plane crash on the runway at Tampa North Executive Airport in Wesley Chapel on Thursday. Pilot Robert Erickson, 68, was injured.

WESLEY CHAPEL — The small mangled plane rested on its side. A blue wing sat a few feet away, torn off when officials rescued the pilot inside.

Robert Erickson, 68, crashed in his experimental biplane on the runway at Tampa North Executive Airport on Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.

His daughter, Susan Brady, 41, said Erickson was in intensive care Thursday evening.

He had blood on his brain and lost an eye, his nose and potentially his left arm, in the wreck. She did not say which hospital he was in.

The two lived together next to the runway in the King's Landing subdivision.

Records indicate Erickson was an accomplished and experienced pilot, but his daughter still pleaded with him not to fly.

"I just lost my mom," Brady said, sobbing. "I told him 'if anything happened to you, Dad, what am I going to do?' "

Brady's parents divorced when she was younger, she said. But Erickson came with her to visit her mother, Nancy Sorensen, as cancer overtook her body and she entered hospice care.

Sorensen died in May.

Brady was too overcome with emotion to talk further about her father or the accident.

Erickson was conscious and awake when he was airlifted away from the crash, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"I heard him when they pulled him out; he was hurting," said Charlie Forry, 73, who also lives near the runway in the King's Landing subdivision.

Deputies did not release details of the accident, or say whether it occurred when the plane was taking off or landing.

Forry, who does not fly, said that some of the pilots in the area complained that wind blowing over an office center near the runway often made flying difficult.

"The pilots that live here just hate that," said his wife, June.

Neighbor Tom Hindes watched Erickson practice taking off and landing in the morning.

"He seemed to be fully under control," Hindes said.

The Federal Aviation Administration was also investigating the crash, but did not comment Thursday afternoon.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Pasco pilot seriously injured in crash 09/25/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 28, 2008 12:34pm]
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