Pilot's Wife: He's Not Your Average 79-Year-Old

The crash victim's wife said her husband is doing well

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego
    A small plane crashed near Gillespie Field.

    The wife of the 79-year-old pilot involved in Wednesday’s plane crash in El Cajon said her husband is in great spirits and scheduled to be released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.

    North County resident Paul Oas, a retired Lutheran minister, had taken off from Gillespie Field and was flying to Ramona to meet a friend for lunch when he reported mechanical problems and turned around to land, according to his wife Nancy Oas.

    In the process, the plane clipped the trolley line, flipped over and landed in the street.

    The 79-year-old man was trapped for about 30 minutes before firefighters pulled him from the plane. He was conscious and talking with authorities.

    Nancy Oas says her husband suffered a broken rib and has nerve damage to his left arm. She says he was using his left arm to hold on to the plane's canopy, which had somehow loosened.

    Oas said her husband is "not your average 79-year-old," dispelling any thought that age may have been a factor in the accident. She says Paul Oas cycles everyday, swims and lifts weights regularly.

    Pilots flying the types of planes involved in the crash are not subject to standard medical certification rules, according to aviation expert and instructor Eamonn Powers.

    The plane was a relatively new "Light Sports" class of plane, which is significant because there are different rules for pilots flying those types of plane, according to aviation expert and instructor Eamonn Powers.
     
    Powers says pilots flying light sports planes are not required to get annual medical certification. For all other planes, pilots over 40-years of age are required to get the medical certification.
     
    "The reason for the light sports rule was to help promote aviation and get around rigorous and expensive testing required by the FAA," said Powers.

    There are much stricter flight limitations and restrictions for pilots of light sports planes, including only being able to fly during the day and flying below 10,000 feet, he said.

    Nancy Oas said her husband is instrument rated as a pilot and his medical certification is current.