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Injured Pilot Found After Airplane Runs Out of Gas in Mississippi

Airplane went down in North Mississippi Woods of Monroe County

Greg Huggins is a 49 year old pilot from Memphis, Tennessee. On Tuesday morning, February 14th, the pilot was beginning his Valentine’s Day morning by flying his single-engine Piper Cherokee Six from Ocala, Florida back to Olive Branch, Mississippi where he works for Downtown Aviation. Huggins is an instructor for the company that gives flying lessons at the airport in Olive Branch.

The Piper Cherokee Six is registered to Buccaneer Aviation Inc., which is a Delaware corporation. However, the company apparently carries on business in Florida.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said Huggins reported that he was having a problem when he was about 18 miles southeast of Tupelo, Mississippi. At about 7:45 a.m. CST, Bergen said that an alert was sent out to the authorities and airports that were located within a 50-mile radius of the plane’s last known location.

Running out of gas

Bergen said that she could not say what the nature of the problem was that the pilot was experiencing. However, local authorities said that he letting air traffic controllers know that he was running out of gas.

Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell said that Huggins had tried to give air traffic controllers his location before he went down. Huggins was trapped upside down in the Piper Cherokee Six for several hours. Even though he was bleeding from his head, disoriented and injured, he was able to call 911 on his cell phone, but he could not tell the operator where he was.

The area where Huggins went down was the north woods of Mississippi. He crashed near the border of Itawamba and Monroe counties. Several people who live in the area where the Piper Cherokee Six went down said they saw a plane that looked like it was going down into the woods.

Large search effort

Law enforcement officers, firefighters and others from Itawamba, Lee and Monroe counties searched for the downed plane. Two Army National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopters were also used in the search effort after overcast skies had initially prevented the helicopters from going up. In fact, National Guard spokesman Tim Powell said that it was one of the two military helicopters that spotted the wreckage of the plane around 12:40 p.m. CST.

Sheriff Cantrell said that Huggins had called someone on his cell phone. Authorities were able to use “pings” from cellular towers located in the area to help narrow the search for Huggins. What this involves is reading the cell towers that Huggins phone was connected to. Sheriff Cantrell said, “Technology is what saved this man’s life.”

Sheriff Cantrell said, “It was just an awesome job on everybody’s part. He has to be a pretty good pilot. He went down between trees in some oak hardwoods and the wings took the impact.”

Huggins was taken to the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Mississippi where he was listed in critical condition because of a cut to his head. He was later moved to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee where he was listed in serious condition on Thursday, February 16th.


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