Wind gusts up to 38 mph barreled across the metro area Monday, and one of
them grabbed hold of David Goddard's red Cessna 175 and flew it like a child
flies his first kite as Goddard was trying to land at the Lake Elmo Airport.
"I hit the wind shear," Goddard said. "It flipped the plane. I pulled the
power and tried to get control of it. I couldn't do it."
The little red plane skimmed through a bean field, rammed power line
poles and plowed through the back wall of a hangar at the Lake Elmo Airport
— sideways, with one wingtip pointing down and the other gesturing toward
the overcast sky, the Washington County sheriff said.
Goddard, 54, was flying into Lake Elmo Airport around noon, making a
quick hop from his home near Milwaukee to a meeting in Bloomington. Instead,
he found himself surrounded by the wreckage of his beloved plane and snarled
up in two other Cessnas that had been parked in the hangar. The ripped metal
hangar walls fluttered and squeaked in the wind. An office chair rested
catawampus on a plane wing several feet off the ground.
Goddard smelled fuel and clambered out of the hangar as quickly as he
could. A man and woman in the area saw the accident and hurried to help
Goddard, said Sheriff Jim Frank. When authorities arrived, they found
Goddard sitting outside the hangar. He was taken to Regions Hospital in St.
Paul, where his facial cuts were stitched.
He didn't even break a bone, his wife, Vonna Goddard said Monday
afternoon, as she drove from Milwaukee to lay her eyes on the husband she
could easily have lost.
"Obviously we're ecstatic that it wasn't more serious than that," she
Goddard's plane "is just bent metal now," he said. "It held together
enough to keep me alive. I'm very lucky."
No damage estimates were available Monday. The Federal Aviation
Administration is investigating the incident. Its ruling on the accident
could determine whether Goddard, an enthusiastic pilot, will keep flying.
"That's his passion in life," Vonna Goddard said.
Alvina Schmidt of Afton reached her privately owned hangar at the Lake
Elmo Airport around 1 p.m. She peeked through the rip in the wall and shook
her head at her two battered Cessnas, which broke the landing for Goddard's
She turned her back to the relentless wind and said, with real concern,
"I hope he has insurance."
She might have been reassured if she had known about the business meeting
Goddard missed on Monday.
"He's an insurance agent," Vonna Goddard said.