FILBERT -- Engine trouble forced the pilot of a four-seat Piper airplane to make a crash landing in the middle of a peach orchard in Filbert on Friday.
No one was seriously injured.
The pilot, David Zallar, 37, and his wife, Sheri Zallar, 35, of Charlotte left the Rock Hill/York County airport in a rented airplane on their way to Asheville, N.C., around 10:30 a.m., according to a York County Sheriff's report.
Shortly after take-off, the plane began to lock up and smoke, the report stated. Zallar knew of a small grass air strip in Filbert and tried to land there. Instead, the plane landed to the side of it amid dozens of young peach trees at the Bush-N-Vine.
"He looked for a place to try to land or ditch, and he ended up making a successful crash landing," York Fire Chief Domenic Manera said. "He did a good job bringing it in. He landed in I guess as soft as you can when you don't have power."
Jay Leake and his father, John Leake, were standing outside at nearby Leake's Antiques when Jay saw the plane come in for the landing.
"We heard this sputter, and we looked up and the plane kind of came over from the west," Jay Leake said. "It was sputtering and smoking and real low and slow. We thought 'Man, it's not going to make it.'"
It appeared the pilot waited until the last minute to make the turn toward the strip, Jay Leake said. The Leakes said they didn't see the plane land, but they saw the smoke after the crash.
Jay Leake drove down to the strip fearing the worst. When he got there, he found the couple standing outside the plane, shaken but without any serious injuries. David Zallar had only a couple of minor scratches, and Sheri Zallar was a little sore from the landing, according to the report.
"It didn't look good. It didn't sound good. But I guess it turned out pretty good," John Leake said.
Federal Aviation Administration inspector Eddie Shields estimated the aircraft had about $10,000 worth of damage, according to the sheriff's report. The plane had been leaking fuel, but it was safely taken care of.
Efforts to obtain a comment from the Zallars on Friday were unsuccessful.