Arkansas congressional hopeful recovering from plane crash

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man who is challenging U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford in the Republican primary this spring suffered a broken back and other injuries when he crashed his single-engine airplane last week.

Jody Shackelford told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he was trying to land his Bellanca 17-30A when he crashed Friday at the Sharp County Regional Airport, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Little Rock. He said his plane’s engine sputtered and died before the crash and that he tried to land in a clearing of trees.

“What I didn’t realize was that there was this wire fence between me and the tree line,” he said. “So I smacked into that and, believe it or not, I think it acted like a net and absorbed some of the energy.

“A big rush of stuff hit me in my face,” he said. “I felt like I got punched by Mike Tyson.”

Shackelford, who said he’s been a pilot for two years, suffered a broken back, ribs, hand and nose.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Shackelford and state Rep. Brandt Smith are challenging Crawford for the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional District in eastern Arkansas. The primary is May 24.

Shackelford said he’ll remain in the race even though the injuries might slow his campaign activity. He wrote on Facebook: ““In my run for office, I’m still in the game. I told my wife that I might have dropped out of the sky but I’m not dropping out of this race.”

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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