The Richmond Register

March 17, 2014

Some planes flew too low in Madison County

By Carol Prewitt
Register Columnist

NEWBY — My husband has always had a love of flying. Anything concerning planes will make his ears perk right up.

Recently, he was reminiscing about incidents that happened in the Newby area.

When he was about 10, a single-engine Piper Cub was flying over our area when the pilot had a problem and had to make an emergency landing. He had been flying too high and the carburetor had frozen, stopping the engine.

It was the middle of the night, and he had to land on a ridge on lower Maple Grove Road off Tates Creek Road. The farm belonged to Wallace Kanatzer.

While gliding in, he hit a barbed-wire fence, and it tore off his landing gear, probably saving his life. If he had gone any farther, he would have gone off the ridge and into some trees.

We’re not sure who came to his aid first, but the pilot, unharmed, was taken to someone who knew about planes. Soon a mechanic was located and the needed parts were located.

Young Bill Prewitt just had to see this. He had only seen planes fly overhead, and this was his chance to see one up close. But his dad was too busy to take him.

Elbert Winkler felt sorry for him and took him walking down the road and way out the ridge. When the plane came into view, Bill was so excited. There it sat with its nose planted in the ground. He thought he was in heaven.

Later, the plane was repaired and ready to take off. Imagine Bill’s disappointment when he learned it was gone and he had missed it!

Some years later, a plane flying from Indiana heading to Florida ran out of gas in the same general area. This pilot chose to land on a Lexington Pike farm.

Again, the pilot was taken to someone who knew planes, and soon he was ready to leave. But during that brief visit he met several Madison County flying enthusiasts, including Dan Coy, J.T. Curtis and the Whitakers.

The pilot’s name was Jerry Garriot. He owned Eagles Nest Fishing Camp in Fruitland Park, Fla., where you could fly and land right at the camp. He invited his new friends to come down and fish. And so began the Madison County Snow Bird migration.

Some 30 years later, Bill Prewitt went down in his motor home and liked the area. Fast forward another 30 plus years, and Bill and I ended up managing the 210-home Eagles Nest Park for about seven years. Small world!