Pilot survives plane crash, 50 hours in tree

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, June 21, 2007

A pilot spent about 50 hours in a downed plane suspended from a tree before being rescued Wednesday in Lafayette County.

A Civil Air Patrol official said Dennis Steinbock, 52, of Klamath Falls, Ore., was thought to have broken bones in both legs and was suffering from dehydration when he was rescued two days after disappearing.

Steinbock was flying from Alabama to Missouri when he disappeared, said Civil Air Patrol 1st Lt. Phil Norris, a Mississippi Wing Public affairs officer.

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Steinbock’s son, Steven, talked briefly by phone with officials at the Memphis Medical Center as his father was being unloaded from a helicopter for treatment. They told him his father’s injuries were not critical.

“I would still like to talk to him,” Steven Steinbock told the Herald and News of Klamath Falls on Wednesday. “At least we know he’s going to be OK.”

Steinbock was found in a densely wooded gully in the southeast corner of Lafayette County, about 15 miles south of Oxford.

The Civil Air Patrol had been conducting an air search since Tuesday, when Steinbock did not arrive in Tupelo after making radio contact Monday.

Norris said the high school history teacher’s flight plan called for a trip from Alabama to Point Lookout, Mo., in what a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman described as a home-built, single-engine Zodiac. He was scheduled to make a fuel stop in Helena, Ark.

The air patrol detected an emergency signal Wednesday and directed a ground rescue crew to his location. It took two hours to lower him to the ground.

The plane is registered to John H. Anderson, of Harpersville, Ala., FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. Steinbock bought the plane from Anderson, who could not be reached Wednesday night.