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.
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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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