75 year-old Bob Brunson told KGVO News on Thursday that 'he was lucky to be on this side of the grass', after he and a friend were in a small plane crash on Tuesday.

Brunson went to Helena with his friend, 78 year-old Duane Felstet, who had just purchased a 1966 Piper PA-28. After doing a complete pre-flight check, Brunson, who was at the controls, took off from the Helena International airport to do some 'touch-and-go's', when something went wrong.

"We lifted off and started flying out at 80 miles per hour and we passed the end of the runway and over a residential area, and I told Duane, 'this doesn't feel right, it's not climbing as it should.', Brunson said.

Brunson told Felstet that he was going to head back to the airport.

"I made a very shallow left turn, then another one, and we kept losing altitude," he said. "I did everything I could do, we just lost power, and down we went. We clipped off a power pole and part of a tree, and we crashed down into a little storage building."

Brunson said the Piper airplane was totaled, but hopes to return to Helena with Felstet to salvage what they can from the downed craft.

Brunson said he suffered some injuries, primarily cuts and bruises, but was able to return home and be interviewed by the Missoulian, KPAX-TV, and KGVO Radio.

"I'm very thankful that Duane is safe, " he said. "He had a little operation on his elbow today and he's home. Yeah, like I told some other people yesterday... 'God was my co-pilot.'"

KGVO News also spoke with Felstet late Thursday afternoon. He was thankful that the crash did not seriously damage any homes in the residential area near the Helena airport, and that no fires resulted from the crash.

Felstet sustained a broken elbow, facial lacerations and other non life-threatening injuries. He said he is eager to get back in the air, and that statistically speaking, flying is still much safer than driving a car on Montana's highways.

Interview with Duane Felstet


The FAA is currently investigating the crash.