Now, this guy is a pilot! Donald Byrne landed his burning airplane and lived to tell about it

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Donald Byrne landed this burning airplane just after taking off from Georgetown Del on Jan. 28, 2017 photo courtesy of Georgetown Fire Company

Now, this guy is a pilot! Donald Byrne landed his burning airplane and lived to tell about it

GEORGETOWN, DEL. – A Calvert County man had the miracle flight and landing of his life that could have ended his life. Delaware State Police are currently investigating an incident in which an aircraft caught fire shortly after taking off from a Georgetown airport yesterday afternoon.

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The initial investigation has determined that the incident occurred at approximately 2:07 p.m. yesterday, Saturday, January 28, 2017, as Donald Byrne, 59, of Lusby, MD, had just taken off in a single-engine plane from the Sussex County Airport located at 21553 Rudder Lane, Georgetown. After reaching a height of approximately 1400 feet, the plane’s cockpit began to fill with smoke. Byrne brought the plane back to the airport, where just before landing, fire became visible in the cockpit.

Upon landing, Byrne jumped from the plane while it was still in motion. The plane came to rest in a grassy area a short distance away and became fully engulfed in flames.

Upon landing, Byrne jumped from the plane while it was still in motion. The plane came to rest in a grassy area a short distance away and became fully engulfed in flames.

Donald Byrne was removed from the scene by ambulance and transported to Beebe Healthcare where he was treated for his non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation into this incident by the Delaware State Police and the Federal Aviation Administration is on-going. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Donald Byrne’s plane burns after he landed it in Delaware. Photo Courtesy of Georgetown Fire Company

From Georgetown Fire Company:

On Jan. 27, 2017, the fire company along with Station 93 Georgetown American Legion EMS & SCEMS were alerted for an aircraft emergency at the Delaware Coastal Airport. The aircraft had caught on fire shortly after takeoff, with the pilot able to re-land the plan as it engulfed in flames. Pilot evacuated the plane just prior to coming to a stop off the runway. Command arrived to find the plane fully involved and fire spreading throughout the field, approx. 6 acres. The pilot was taken to an area local hospital for injuries. Assistance from Station 83 Millsboro, Station 85 Milton and Station 75 Ellendale. The scene turned over to DSP and Sussex County personnel. The Investigation is underway by the FAA & NTSB.

Ready for an overhaul after pilot Donald Byrne of Lusby, Md. successfully landed his plane at Georgetown Del while it was on fire on Jan. 28, 2017 Photo courtesy of Sussex Co. EOC

The incident occurred shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, when the pilot, part of a group of recreational aviators visiting the area for the day, declared an emergency within moments of taking off from the airport’s crosswind runway. The pilot turned the aircraft around, landing it on the runway, where it rolled to a stop in a grass infield. The pilot exited as flames consumed the 1960 Piper Tripacer.

Crews from Georgetown, Ellendale, Millsboro, and Milton fire companies, along with units from Sussex County EMS, Georgetown EMS and Delaware State Police, responded to the emergency, which also touched off a wind-swept brush fire along the runway. It took fire crews approximately an hour to get the fire under control. Damage to the infield was limited to an approximately five- to 10-acre area. The pilot was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment of minor injuries. The airport was closed to air traffic during the response. Airport officials have reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board for investigation.