Pilot cited in connection with Cottonwood plane crash

Posted: Updated:
An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas
An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas
An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas
An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas
An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas An airplane hit a fence at Cottonwood Municipal Airport Monday night. By Jennifer Thomas

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. -- A pilot who crashed into a fence after mistaking a road for a runway at Cottonwood Municipal Airport was cited in connection with the incident.

Cottonwood police spokesman Sgt. Cody Savage said Kelly Thompson, 65, has been charged with operating an airplane without a proper license, operating a not-airworthy aircraft, and reckless aircraft operations. He was cited and released but is expected to appear at the Cottonwood Municipal Court.

Police officers responded to a report of a plane crash at about 11:20 p.m. Monday and located an airplane in the 100 block of South Airpark Road. Savage said the plane had collided with a portion of the fence bordering the road and the airport.

Thompson initially told police that the runway lights were not functioning properly and thought Airpark Road was his runway. By the time he realized it was a roadway, he could not pull up to avoid hitting the fence.

Cottonwood police and the Federal Aviation Administration investigated the crash.

"Investigation into the runway lighting system revealed that it was operating correctly and it is believed that pilot error was a contributing factor into the runway lights not operating," Savage said in an email to 3TV Friday.

Thompson sustained two broken vertebrae in his neck and was treated at the Flagstaff Medical Center.