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Surgeon says broken hand will be fine after plane crash

TAMPA — The left hand of Dr. Daniel Greenwald, which helped him earn a reputation as a plastic surgeon, will recover fully after a plane crash nearly killed him Friday.

"I've had better days. I am alive," Greenwald said Monday. "My hand is pinned and may need some (more) surgery. … I think I'll be fine."

Greenwald, 48, and friend Mitch Kirby, 19, were returning from a sightseeing trip over the Port of Tampa when Greenwald's Extra 300 single-engine plane struck the mast of a sailboat floating in a shipping channel. It careened into a seawall before it flipped over onto the Peter O. Knight Airport airfield on Davis Islands.

Kirby suffered a broken leg while Greenwald, who piloted the plane, broke a bone in his left hand.

Greenwald, former head of plastic surgery at Tampa General Hospital who now runs Bayshore Plastic Surgery, said he expects to be back to work within two weeks and called the injury minor. He said he was making a normal approach for landing Friday when the sailboat appeared in his flight path. He didn't see it because of the angle of the approach he took and because the boat didn't have its sails up, he said.

The plane struck the mast of the boat and then the airfield seawall. It was lucky to have hit the top of the seawall and not any lower, saving both pilot and passenger, Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said Friday.

Greenwald said that was calculated. He used his left rudder to make an aerobatic move to get the nose of the plane up to clear the sea wall as much as possible.

"The right wing fell off and we were pointing at the seawall and reflexes took over to help me fly and clear the seawall," he said.

Greenwald, who has flown privately and commercially more than 35 years, used to fly aerobatic maneuvers — which included looping and rolling in the air. He said he plans to fly again.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or

Surgeon says broken hand will be fine after plane crash 12/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 6:04pm]
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