78-year-old man rescued from ‘homemade’ plane as it dangled in tree, Florida cops say

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A 78-year-old pilot had to be rescued from a plane hanging in the air after his “homemade aircraft” crashed into a tree line and disintegrated in Florida, the Volusia Sheriff’s Office says.

The pilot, Vincent Grasso of Palm Bay, was hospitalized with serious injuries, according to a news release.

It happened around 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in Oak Hill, about 60 miles northeast of Orlando.

Grasso was the only occupant of an ultralight airplane when it crashed shortly after takeoff, officials said.

“Deputies responded to the crash site, near a home in the 1400 block of Maytown Road. Parts of the homemade aircraft were found in trees 15-20 feet off the ground, while the fuselage was strewn in the woods,” the sheriff’s office reported.

“Rescuers had to extricate the pilot, who ... was flown by Air One to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.”

Witnesses report the aircraft made “two large hard left bank turns” just before it backfired and the engine shut down.

“The airplane disappeared below the tree line and one witness said she heard a loud noise,” the sheriff’s office said.

“Homeowners arrived at the crash site and spotted the plane positioned upside down in a tree. The pilot appeared to be unconscious and was still strapped in his seat in the cabin,” officials said.

“After the pilot was rescued, the wreckage of the home-built ‘Legal Eagle’ ultralight aircraft was removed from the scene.”

Grasso was in an intensive care unit Feb. 2, listed in stable condition, a relative reported on Facebook. His injuries include bleeding on the brain, facial fractures, a broken clavicle and perforated bowel, she wrote.

The crashed marked the second time in just over two months that a “homemade aircraft” crashed near the airport in Oak Hill.

In November, 73-year-old pilot Charles Alban was killed when an “experimental/homemade” aircraft hit a tree in the 1700 block of Maytown Road, the sheriff’s office said. The craft was identified as a Taylor Monoplane and it belonged to another pilot who was not on the plane when it crashed, officials said.

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