Plane Crashes In Fort Smith; Pilot Rescued By Boaters

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) - A plane crashed into the Arkansas River in Fort Smith on Saturday (July 12) evening near the Midland Avenue bridge, according to authorities.

Three men in a boat on the river rescued the pilot, who was the only person on-board the aircraft, authorities said.

The plane is registered to Tim Hazlewood of Van Buren, according to flight records. He was piloting the plane and is reported to be in good condition, authorities said.

Records show the plane is a fixed-wing, single-engine, amateur-built experimental aircraft.

The men in the boat told authorities they saw the plane losing altitude as it approached the Arkansas River. The plane then hit the water and flipped on its top. The pilot was able to escape the crashed aircraft and was picked up by the men in the boat, authorities said.

The three men in the boat tied the plane up to their boat. The Fort Smith Fire Department hauled the plane to the bank with one of their emergency boats, and a wrecker then pulled the plane onto the shore, authorities said.

The Fort Smith Police Department said they received a call around 7:18 p.m. about a reported plane crash.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

According to authorities In December of 1984 a plane crashed into the Arkansas River. Emergency responders pulled a father, son and a plane out of the Arkansas River.

The two were found dead according to authorities.

"The boy is not in the plane it was evidence that something was seat belted in beside the father," an official on scene told 5NEWS.

Gregory Reed with Southern Eagle Aviation in Fort Smith is a pilot instructor.

"In the airplane business you don`t get a second chance a lot of times," Reed said. "As far as getting anyone`s permission to go anywhere with it, no if you own the airplane you can pretty much do what you want."

5NEWS asked Reed if regulations should be more strict.

"As far as regulations do I think there should be tighter, no," Reed said.

Reed said it's important to have the proper training when operating an aircraft.



  • Mel Sams

    Happy the Pilot is safe and no one else was injured, and Thank You to the folks who were Fishing and were able to rescue the man and help tie off the plane until Firefighters arrived. We had seen this Plane flying around at our house North of the Van Buren Walmart a couple times, he was some what low but that is normal when folks are sightseeing and we never heard any odd noise at the times we seen him. He would Pull-Up after he got a mile or so north of us and come back around just as many others have done over the years. God was with him and guided him to a Safe place to land.

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