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Plane skids to a stop
Speedway president, others safe
Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell file photo.
Monday, July 23, 2012
By MARK THOMPSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
The landing gear of a plane owned by Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell malfunctioned Sunday, causing the plane to land on its belly at the Blue Ridge Regional Airport.
The plane was returning from Ohio and had to land on its underside after the landing gear malfunctioned, said Mike Smith, director of public relations at the Martinsville Speedway. No one was hurt in the 12:15 a.m. crash, according to Smith and Virginia State Police Sgt. J.M. Phillippi.
Because the landing gear malfunctioned, the plane was forced to land on the undercarriage of the fuselage, Phillippi said.
“The plane skidded down a good portion of the runway on its belly and stopped in the grass at the end of the runway,” Smith said.
Campbell was returning from racing in the Jegs 150 K&N Pro Series auto race Sunday night at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway in Columbus, Smith said.
Although Campbell owns the plane and is an instrument and multi-engine rated pilot, he was not flying the plane, Smith said, adding that he did not know who was flying the plane.
There were seven people on board, Phillippi said.
Campbell was not available for comment Sunday, Smith said.
“As you can guess, it happened late last night so he didn’t get any sleep last night,” Smith said. “I think he was going to try to get some rest today.”
The plane was damaged in the incident.
“The plane is still all intact,” Phillippi said. “It has damage to the undercarriage and to the wings and the propellers, but it’s still all together.”
Campbell is the president of Martinsville Speedway, and the grandson of the race track’s founder, the late H. Clay Earles. Campbell is a member of the Blue Ridge Airport Authority Board of Directors.
Officials with the Blue Ridge Regional Airport, which handles about 63 aircraft a day on average, could not be reached Sunday for comment.