WALLER COUNTY, Texas - On what was described as a perfect day for soaring, the term pilots use for flying glider planes, veteran pilot Thomas Ray Hazel crashed landed his glider plane into an open field near F.M. 1488 and Lanesview Road on Sunday.
Hazel is a pilot with more than 40 years flying experience, a former Air Force pilot and vice president of the Soaring Club Of Houston.
Authorities said he lost control of his Schleicher ASW-20 , clipped a power line and crashed into an open field in Hempstead, managing to avoid houses, local businesses and busy roads in the area.
Hazel, 67, was taken by LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. He is listed in critical condition.
"Tom is just one of the nicest people I have ever met, I regard him as a skilled pilot," Keith Miller, a fellow glider pilot and friend of Hazel's said.
Hours after the crash, there was a feeling of shock and sadness at The Soaring Club Of Houston over the crash that critically injured Hazel.
Hazel, 67, was transported by LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.
At the flight club where he has spent hundreds of Saturdays and Sundays, friends called him a skilled pilot who holds both his private pilot's license and his commercial pilot's license. They said he was planning to start teaching flying lessons to students soon.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. Sunday afternoon and evening FAA investigators took measurements and photographs at the crash site.
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