"They were very, very, very lucky. The airplane is completely destroyed. Tore the engines right off," says Bob Parker. Parker can't get the image of the plane crashing out of his head.
"It was a horrific..." he trails off. "I'll be thinking about this."
Parker owns Tripp Creek Airport in rural Clinton County. A twin-engine Cessna was trying to land there Friday morning, when one of the engines died. The pilot, who friends say is 37-year-old Tim Swanson, and his 39-year-old passenger hit the ground hard and kept on flipping.
"The airplane turned right and cartwheeled in," Parker says.
"It's still playing in my head," says Gregg Criner of Ovid.
Along with Parker, Criner was one of the few people to see the crash from just yards away. Expecting the worst, he rushed into the cornfield to help. He was surprised at what he saw.
"By the time we'd gotten there, the two occupants were already outside. They were scuffed up, but seemed to be no worse for the wear," Criner says.
When wilx.com arrived at the scene of the plane crash, both the pilot and his passenger seemed to be doing just fine; they were standing by the plane and talking with people. Deputies say they declined to be taken by ambulance to the hospital, and they were unwilling to tell us their story on camera.
"You just got through a terrific, terrific impact," Parker says. "They were cut up somewhat. I guess they were going to go to the hospital later."
The FAA and Clinton County Sheriff's Office are investigating the crash. It's the first ever of that magnitude to happen at this privately owned, publicly used airport.
This isn't the first small-plane crash to happen in mid-Michigan recently. A plane crashed near Mason last month, and last September, an ultra-light plane crashed into a field in Clinton County's Riley Township. No one was killed in either of those crashes.