for immediate release
March 30, 2001

N E W S   R E L E A S E

The pilot of a single-engine airplane that crashed immediately after takeoff this morning in Niceville is being treated at Twin Cities Hospital. Travis Alan Willms, age 21 (1-28-80), of Hollywood, Florida, apparently suffered a broken leg and possibly other injuries when the 1957 Piper Cub PA-18-A he was piloting went down in the woods, approximately 50 yards east of the runway at the Ruckel Airstrip in Niceville.

Willms had been in the area several days flying advertising banners for "Aerial Sign Company" of Hollywood, Florida, and was en route back to the company headquarters at the time of the crash this morning. He told rescuers the engine lost power shortly after the plane became airborne.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Okaloosa Emergency Medical Services, the Niceville Fire Department, and other agencies were notified at 7:39 this morning (Friday morning) by residents of the area who reported hearing a possible crash or seeing a plane disappear into the trees. Rescue crews on foot located the wrecked aircraft and the injured pilot after approximately one hour of searching.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office is maintaining security at the scene pending the arrival of investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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for more information contact Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

(850) 651-7420

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