BEAUMONT - Forced landings aren’t new for agricultural aircraft pilot Jeff Leger. He says he has done it upwards of 12 times. But on Saturday things were different.
“Not being able to breathe,” said Leger, a crop duster pilot since 1999. “Not being able to see. The struggle of all those factors and then also trying to, by the way, fly the airplane.”
Leger, who pilots a plane for Twin County Air-Ag., Inc., was making his crop dusting rounds on Saturday afternoon when something went wrong in his engine causing a fire. His cockpit filled with smoke and Leger was unable to see.
“There is no one there that you can actually call on,” said Leger. “You just hope that you’re living right and doing things that you were taught.”
Luckily after his engine died, leger was able to ventilate the smoke with only 100 feet of altitude, and a short time to land. He did and was able to walk away before the plane went up in flames.
“I really had my hands full, and it was something I don’t care to experience again,” said Leger.
Leger was taken the hospital but was only treated for smoke inhalation and was released soon after. Despite this frightening situation, Leger says he is still going to fly.
“I’m going to give it a shot,” said Leger “I’m going to try it. I’m going to see what happens. It’s going to take a little time to try get back into the swing of things.”
Leger says the FAA was at the scene of the crash earlier Monday. He states that they could not determine the cause of the fire.
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