Pilot Jumps From Burning Tri-Pacer


A 59-year-old Maryland pilot was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after he jumped from his burning Tri-Pacer during the roll-out of an emergency landing at Sussex County Airport in Delaware. Donald Byrne had just taken off from a fly-in at the field when he reported smoke in the cockpit. He turned back toward the airport and flames erupted in the cockpit just before he touched down. He shut down the aircraft and bailed out while it was still moving. The plane came to rest on the infield where bystanders with fire extinguishers initially tried to put out the fire.

The aircraft burned to the frame and was doused by foam but not before it caused bigger problems. The wind whipped up and the burning Piper touched off a grass and brush fire that consumed up to 10 acres. It took more than an hour to put out the brush fire and crews from four local departments were called to deal with it. Cause of the fire hasn’t been released but photos taken by the local sheriff’s department show the cockpit fully involved but the engine compartment untouched by the flames.