Knoxville pilot splashes into Tennessee River

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A plane crash in South Knoxville has investigators wondering what forced a pilot to land in the Tennessee River.

Eyewitnesses say the whole thing happened within 10 seconds, and emergency crews were quick on the scene.

The accident drew a small crowd of people who were watching planes take off and land at Island Home Airport.

"You notice the planes going by pretty loud and stuff like that," said Jonathan Ryan of Knoxville.

Ryan came to a park along the river's banks to watch the planes but got much more for his Sunday afternoon outing.

"It's sort of a bit surreal seeing a plane crash it was the first plane crash I'd ever seen."

Shortly before 3 p.m., Knoxville fire officials say, a Cessna 150 crashed into the river when its 67-year-old pilot Michael Matvy began having trouble.

"He complained of mechanical failure, was circling back to land and landed here in water," according to KFD Capt. D.J. Corcoran.

Nearby boaters came to help Matvy while the plane sank some 16 feet into the main channel. The pilot was OK and refused medical treatment as he hung on to the wing of the plane.

"It all happened pretty quick," Ryan recalls. "He was going down at first we thought it was a sea plane or something it looked like he was going to land he was going down it was pretty smooth. All of a sudden it crash landed in water that was it."

Corcoran says the plane had 12 to 15 gallons of fuel. Firefighters put down buoys in the event gas begins to leak from the aircraft. Corcoran says the fuel poses few hazards, but the main hazard was avoided.

"It could have been a lot worse," said Corcoran.

Fire officials say a private company has been called to lift the plane out of the river.
_ _ _ _

A Knoxville pilot is reportedly safe after his plane splashed into the Tennessee River on Sunday afternoon.

A boater pulled Michael Matvy from the water near the Island Home Airport and brought him ashore.

Shortly before 3:00 p.m., Matvy radioed other pilots that his Cessna 150 lost power and he was going down into the river just west of the airport, according to Knoxville police.

Witnesses told police they saw the plane crash into the river and sink. Matvy then surfaced about 15-20 seconds later.

Justin Jenkins was on a nearby Wakeboard Boat and raced over to rescue Matvy.

No one was injured in the incident. The FAA is investigating to determine the cause of the crash.

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  • by Robert Location: Smyrna on Apr 20, 2011 at 04:14 AM
    Pending the discovery of some catastrophic engine failure I would check for undetectable water in the fuel tanks. The probability that the engine ran out of air and or spark is low. In my opinion, I would test another aircraft just like this one by pouring 16 ounces of red dyed water into the fuel tanks of the aircraft while parked in its normal ground attitude. Go to the sump drains and try to positively identify and remove the entire 16 ounces of red dyed water you just poured into the fuel tanks. It either works or it does not. Depending, it just might be a clue to the engine loss.
  • by Robert Location: Smyrna on Apr 18, 2011 at 06:13 PM
    Cessna 150 power loss on take off could be undetectable water in the fuel tanks the pilot cannot positively detect during the preflight of the aircraft. Pending the discovery of a catastrophic engine failure it may have been water in the fuel tanks. Ask the pilot how often he has seen water in his sump cup when preflighting. His answer is the clue to the indicated design flaw in Cessna fuel tanks. Still have doubts, do a simple test. Pour 16 ounces of red dyed water into the fuel tank. Go to the sump see if you can positively detect it and then eliminate the same 16 ounces you just poured into the fuel tank.
  • by JD Location: Knoxville on Apr 18, 2011 at 06:12 PM
    FYI, they were wakeboarding up river from the sewer treatment plant.
  • by Josh on Apr 18, 2011 at 02:31 PM
    @mojo: Why would anyone accidentally wakeboard in that nasty water? @PETE: YEAH IT COULD HAVE BEEN VERY BAD THAT'S WHY IT WAS IN THE NEWS.
  • by Julie Mikels jenkins on Apr 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM
    Wow! Thank God everyone was okay! Way to go!! Love you Mom!
  • by PETE Location: kNOXVILLE on Apr 17, 2011 at 08:04 PM
  • by mojo Location: knox on Apr 17, 2011 at 07:18 PM
    Glad the pilot is ok but why would anybody purposely wakeboard in that nasty water?
    • reply
      by JD on Apr 18, 2011 at 06:13 PM in reply to mojo
      FYI, they were wakeboarding up river from the sewer treatment plant.
    • reply
      by jim on Apr 18, 2011 at 06:21 PM in reply to mojo
      mojo...seriously? its that up-river butter...that would be my guess to way anyone would wakeboard there...


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