Pilot recalls when he crashed his home-built plane

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Two men are still hospitalized and recovering from injuries after their plane crashed into a Columbus home Thursday. The accident brought back terrible memories for Indianapolis resident Martin Fall – one of few pilots who know what it is like to survive a plane crash.

Fall has been flying for about 50 years, but never scratched a single plane until he crashed one in 2005.

He and his first wife were on their way to see family in Parke County when the plane lost gas and the engine died.

“I says (to her), ‘We’re not gonna make it back,'” remembered Fall. “The wheels drug through the tops of some 100 foot high trees and slowed me down too much and so it just came down and we hit real flat.”

Both suffered serious back injuries, but came out alive.

The plane was one of four he has built himself. It was an experimental plane built from a kit, just like the one that crashed in Columbus.

Fall said, building planes at home is an incredibly popular and easy hobby.

“You could build one,” he said. “Read the instructions.”

While anyone can build a plane at home, they cannot fly it without meeting some requirements.

According to the Experimental Aircraft Association, all home-built airplanes must be registered and inspected by the FAA before they ever go up into the sky. Pilots must be licensed and test fly the plane at least 25 hours in a secluded area. They are also subject to a condition inspection every 12 months.

Whether it’s an open field or a street, Fall said pilots are trained to find a place to make an emergency landing when they take off.

It’s unclear what went wrong in the skies above Columbus Thursday morning, but Fall said from his experience, the two victims were probably racing to do whatever they could to survive.

“You don’t have time to be scared. You gotta keep thinking, what you’re gonna do.”