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Third plane crash in three weeks near Ozark

According to Emergency management, three different plane crashes have taken place near Byrd's Adventure Center, leaving residents fearful.

OZARK, Ark. — Emergency crews responded to a plane crash off of Highway 23 on Cass Oark Road north of Ozark, bringing the total of plane crashes to three in three weeks. 

According to Franklin County Emergency Management, the crash happened Wednesday, Sept. 29, near Byrd's Adventure Center resulting in the pilot being airlifted to a Little Rock trauma hospital. 

Credit: Franklin County Emergency Management

The plane took off from an airstrip at Byrd's Adventure Center where the Ozark Backwoods Challenge, a competition that tests pilot's skills, is taking place. 

“Pilots know the risk. But it’s not something we hope for, not something that we count on - (it's) not something that we want ever but with what we’re doing is a possibility," said Arkanstol Co-Founder Rusty Coonfield. 

Rusty Coonfield is the co-founder of the Arkanstol Ozark Backwoods Challenge, which is taking place feet away from residents' homes. 

Franklin County Emergency Management says the pilot crashed on private property not long after take-off and that it is not the first crash in the area. 

Credit: KFSM

The three plane crashes in three weeks have left residents around Byrd's Adventure Center fearful.  Debbies and Danny Stillwell have lived in the same home for 20 years next to the center, which has three runways for planes to use.

A plane also crashed into a tree on Friday (Sept. 24) near the same area and in the yards of residents. According to the FAA’s preliminary report, that plane hit a tree while landing. The pilot was taken to the hospital out of precaution to be evaluated and is reported to be doing okay. 

“We’re so scared that they’re going to hit us. We’ve had conversations with the FAA, Franklin County Sheriff’s office, EMS, forest service, ASP," said the Stillwells.

The first plane crashed on Sept. 12 in the same area as the other two crashes as it was leaving the Byrd's Center resulting in the pilot being sent to a trauma center.

“I feel like we are in danger. And we are not happy about it and we want someone’s help," said Danny and Debbie Stillwell who are asking for the planes to stop flying above their home. "The plane just crashed at the road here for 200 300 feet from the house if you hadn’t turned it’s been in my trees in my trees."

Arkanstol says it is working to prevent crashes like Wednesday (Sept.29) from happening again as the skill completion continues through Sunday. 

“We are always taking lessons about what we can do better. We made changes as necessary," said Coonfield.

The FAA is expected to be onsite Thursday, Sept. 30, to do a full investigation on the Sept. 29 crash. 

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