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'It’s completely surreal': Father, son witness fiery plane crash in Basehor

Basehor fatal plane crash
Posted at 10:18 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 23:18:42-04

BASEHOR, Kan. — A pilot from Lansing, Kansas, was killed in a plane crash while trying to do an emergency landing, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The crash happened around 10 a.m. in a field in Basehor, Kansas.

"It’s completely surreal," Dalton Wood, an eyewitness, said. "That's the only way I can explain it."

The 15-year-old and his dad, Russ Wood, never thought they'd see a plane fall out of the sky on their way to the store.

"He was not very high, he was pretty low, and I didn't think that was right, so I kind of watched it as we were getting in the car to leave," Russ Wood said.

Russ tracked the aircraft across the tree line.

"He didn't lose control, like spin out of control, but he just nose-dived into the ground," Russ Wood said.

Dalton said that once the plane hit the ground, it engulfed in flames.

"I just saw the plane go down, and just engulf in flames," he said.

Dalton started to run toward the ball of fire, but his dad stopped him and dialed 911.

"As soon as I saw the flames, as engulfed as it was, I knew that there was a good chance the pilot did not survive," Russ Wood said.

He adds the first fire truck arrived in less than 10 minutes. The crew came off 158 street and cut across the soybean field to get to the crash site.

"I would say within a 15-to-20-minute period, he had the flames out on the plane," Russ Wood said.

The KHP identified the pilot, the sole occupant, as Gary L. Knight, 68.

"The aircraft was traveling Southbound South of U24 just West of 151st Street when it made a hard right turn causing the nose to face Eastbound," a KHP report state. "The pilot attempted an emergency landing in the bean field. When the aircraft landed, it burst into flames and became fully engulfed."

According to the National Safety Transportation Board, Knight was traveling in an experimental aircraft, a Nieuport 28, which is a replica of a French fighter plane used in World War I.

An aviation expert said the wreckage will be taken to a hanger, where investigators will reconstruct the plane.

"Then from there, they determine, look at the instruments, the engine, how to put together to make sure there wasn't fuel starvation, or [if] the guy actually stalled the airplane," Pat Gordon, an aviation consultant said.

The Woods said it's a moment they won't soon forget.

"It was something I don't want to see. I did not like it. It was scary," Russ Wood said.