Pilot in ultralight crash may hang up his wings - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Pilot in ultralight crash may hang up his wings

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JAMUL (CNS and News 8) - The pilot and sole occupant of an ultralight aircraft escaped with only minor injuries Wednesday when the aircraft crashed into a batting cage during an emergency landing behind an East County middle school.

"I was just going to go up and burn off a half hours worth of fuel, goof off over Jamul Valley and then come back and land, but it didn't work out that way," pilot David Finck told News 8.

Finck is now recovering from minor cuts and bruises, and a sore back, at Sharp Memorial, and says he expects to return home on Thursday.

Witnesses reported seeing the Hurricane Hauler-model plane going down near Lyons Valley Road and Skyline Truck Trail in Jamul shortly after 11 a.m., sheriff's Lt. Mike Munsey said.

"It was engine failure. I'm not sure why," Finck said. "It felt maybe like it was fuel-starved. I was asking for a little more power and it didn't want to give it to me. And I said, uh-oh, there's something not quite right."

The Lomita resident, who has held his sport pilots license for a year, says his emergency training kicked in, as he spotted an open field near Jamul Intermediate School.

"The outfield was wide open, so I thought, that was my best shot," Finck said. 

Finck said he was aiming for the center of the field, but ended up coming to a halt at the field's edge, crashing into a batting cage.

"It was a hard landing, then I plowed into that chain link fence that absorbed the 30 to 35 mph blow I put into it," he said.

Medics took the pilot to a hospital for evaluation of apparently superficial injuries, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. No one else was hurt in the crash, which occurred at the edge of a baseball field behind Jamul Intermediate School, according to Gregor.

Finck says, while he has yet to make a final decision, he "probably won't" fly again.

"I am 59 years old... I'll be celebrating my 60th birthday next month and will be really happy about that," Finck told News 8. "I am happy to be alive and it's good to still be here with the living."

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Gregor said.

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