Retiree in critical condition after small plane crash in Bethel

BETHEL, Ohio -- A 72-year-old man was hospitalized Tuesday after a small plane crash in Bethel.

Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) officials said Roland Franke, of Hamersville, was injured in the crash at about 5 p.m. on his property near Sodom Road and Oak Corner Road.

An emergency helicopter transported him to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Franke suffered a few broken bones, and was listed in critical condition at UCMC as of Wednesday afternoon.

Franke didn't get too far in his flight before facing some trouble, OSHP Sgt. Charles Jordan said.

"He'd just taken off and realized there was some kind of issue and tried to bring it back," Jordan said.

He was the only person onboard the small plane, a 2007 Skyraider, troopers said.

OSHP has turned the scene over to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Franke's neighbors said since his retirement, he stays focused on flying, and that he built the plane with his own two hands.

"From what I understand, over 30 years," Jordan said. "He's been a pilot for some time."

He believes Franke is quite lucky, even though the man is expected to stay in the hospital Tuesday night, where he's recovering with his family.

"Small planes like this, you know, it depends on what kind of engine trouble and where you go down," Jordan said. "Obviously this plane's not very big and sturdy, it's not going to handle a lot of impact, especially something like concrete. Luckily, here it was a farm field."


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