Police: 74-Year-Old Man Crash-Landed Plane At Airpark
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A 74-year-old man from Burns, Tennessee told police that he was the pilot of a vintage plane that crash-landed over the weekend at Cornelia Fort Airpark.
Russell Brothers talked with police from his home Monday. He told them he was flying his 1961 Beechcraft twin-engine airplane from Miami when he decided to land at the closed airpark because he was familiar with the property.
In addition to having problems with his landing gear, he told police his two-way radio was not working.
"Coming on into Dickson I got into a landing pattern and put my wheels down but my wheels didn't come down," said Brothers.
Brothers knew he had to land it on a grass runway and the only one that came to mind was the Cornelia Fort Air Park in nearby East Nashville.
"When you land on pavement with metal you are going to have sparks and I was afraid of a ruptured fuel tank and we'd have a big fire," said Brothers.
He had no lights or landing gear and used the distant lights from Opryland to help guide him down to safety.
The plane was discovered Sunday morning by an employee of Metro Nashville's Parks and Recreation department. When it was still there later in the day, he contacted police.
Local officials were called out to determine how the plane landed without anyone knowing about it. At the time they had no idea who the pilot was.
Investigators said they hoped to meet with Brothers later in the week to discuss the incident in more detail.
It was not the first time he had become entangled with law enforcement.
According to reports, Brothers has a criminal history that includes being sentenced to 60 years after being convicted of smuggling 1.5 tons of cocaine into South Florida in 1988.
Brothers served 11 years in prison for the smuggling charges. He said he had agreed to move the drugs to get out of debt, and that he learned his lesson.
"The going up is never worth the downside," he said.
In 2010, officials said Brothers stole his business partner's plane and held it for ransom. He was never convicted.
His cousin is Circuit Court Judge Tommy Brothers.
While he was feeling lucky he made a safe landing, Brothers said he was more upset about that his vintage 1961 Beechcraft was ruined.
"When I told my wife that she fussed at me and said you should have been praying and I said I already did pray and I knew the Lord was with me on my landing," said Brothers.
Police searched the abandoned plane for drugs, but found nothing.
Brothers insists he didn't break any laws, and that there was nothing suspicious about his crash-landing.