Emergency crews responded to an aircraft crash Thursday morning in Wood County.
According to the Wood County Sheriff's Office, 49-year-old Dwyatt "Dee" Wayne Hawkins of White Oak was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash after his ultralight aircraft went down just west of Mineola-Wisener Field Airport around 8:30 a.m.
Friends of Dwyatt say they were surprised to hear he had crashed.
"He's had exposure to this type of aircraft. He's flown ultralights for a number of years," said Robert Wisener, friend of Hawkins and assistant manager at Mineola Wisener Field Airport. "I'm aware of him for more than 10 years having access to similar types of planes that he had."
A witness at the scene of the crash, who has asked not to be identified at this time, say that he saw the ultralight take off and crash. The witness said the ultralight was headed south on takeoff, then veered right. He seemed to get control of the aircraft, but then descended again. The pilot then increased throttle, according to the witness, and climbed about forty feet, banked sharply to the right and hit a tree with the right wing. When the wing hit the tree, it sent the ultralight spinning out of sight behind trees. The witness said he then heard a loud crash.
"You have less protection than some other aircraft. It's similar to riding a motorcycle and more exposed," said Wisener. "There were propellers that looked like they had been under power when then impact happened."
The witness said he drove over to the area where the ultralight went down, jumped over a fence, and found the pilot. He said the pilot was unconscious and not breathing, and that his back and helmet were on fire.
The man pulled the pilot from the wreckage, took his helmet off of him and rolled him to put out the flames, he said. He attempted CPR and called 911 for help.
The witness said he feels that the parachute system that was on the ultralight would not have helped at the low altitude the pilot had reached.
"You have to have more altitude for them to be effective," said Wisener. "My understanding is it wasn't deployed. It was more than likely inadvertently deployed on impact."
Wisener explained the risk of flying, but Hawkins passion for his hobby.
"It's the chance you take in anything you do," said Wisener."I know he was enthusiastic in this type of flying. He was passionate especially about this type of flying."
Wisener says, he will be missed.
"I don't like to say goodbye to people that you like. It is a sad, sad occurrence," said Wisener.
Judge Wes Riddle pronounced the pilot dead at the scene.
Wisener says this is the first fatality recorded at Mineola-Wisener Field Airport.
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