Tennessee Pilot Alive, Thanks to Team Effort

A crop duster said his firefighter training kicked in as he opened the man's airway.


Finney downplayed his actions. "It wasn't too heroic," he said. "I was there and knew what to do. That's all."

Baker said that's typical of a man who's been a pilot, firefighter, soldier, day trader, painting and roofing business owner and senior manager in corporate America.

"Rick is the kind of guy who didn't even want to get interviewed yesterday because he said he got his thanks yesterday from the people there," Baker said.

As for running out of fuel, Baker said he's never done it, but he has been close.

"He was facing a 15 mph or better headwind, so it slowed his ground time down a lot," Baker said. "He didn't miss it but by about a mile. It was very close. Those things happen. It's not a reflection on the pilot's capabilities or his integrity or anything. It's just one of those things. It's a regrettable thing."

Beyond the swampy, tree-filled area the plane crashed in was a field that Baker is certain Wingate was targeting: "If he could have glided another few seconds, he would have been over a field (and) he could have put it down on."

The National Transportation Safety Board provided data Thursday that shows there have been 328 general aviation accidents citing fuel exhaustion as a cause or factor from 2005 through February 2014.

Moraine Airpark flight instructor Tim Chrisman said pilots calculate the fuel needed for a trip plus a reserve, but added that something may have happened to make the plane run out of gas more quickly than anticipated.

"There could be a mechanical situation, just a plain old common fuel leak," Chrisman said. "There could be a weather situation that manifests itself in ways that will slow you down."

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