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Two injured in Butts County plane crash

By Michael Davis

mdavis@myjpa.com

Two people were seriously injured when the experimental airplane they were on board crashed as it took off Friday, from Seven Lakes Airport, authorities said.

The crash happened at 12:50 p.m., as the amateur-built Glasair SH-2 was taking off, Federal Aviation Administration Spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

A Butts County Sheriff's Office incident report identified the two on board as Michael C. Childers, 47, of Morrow, and Catherine Bittler. No city of residence or age was given for Bittler.

Bergen said the plane, a single-engine propeller-driven craft, was built by Edwin S. Yost in 1984.

It is currently registered to Coba Inc., of Carson City, Nev. Bergen said the aircraft lost its engine on takeoff, rolled and crashed into a building at the airport.

She said authorities were investigating the cause of the engine's separation from the aircraft.

Butts County Sheriff Gene Pope said Friday he spoke to the male pilot, who told him what happened inside the small plane:

"As it attempted to take off, he said, the plane started to yaw [or rotate] to the right," Pope said. "It lost altitude, skipped off the runway, bounced a couple of times, flipped over, struck a small hangar and came to rest upside-down."

Pope added that the pilot, and the female passenger, were taken by air to Grady Memorial Hospital, to be treated for injuries sustained in the crash.

Both were listed on Tuesday as having been discharged.

A working phone listing for Childers could not be located Tuesday. A phone listing for Bittler also could not be located.

It was the second crash of a small plane taking off from Seven Lakes in recent weeks.

A bi-plane crashed into a wooded area off Woodward Lane on Sept. 4, spilling some fuel but leaving the pilot -- the only person on board -- unscathed, authorities said.

The pilot of the craft reported mechanical problems and was trying to return to the airport when the crash occurred, Bergen said last month.

The plane, a 1943 Boeing E75, is registered to James G. Ratliff, Jr., of Conyers.

Butts County Fire Chief Mike Wilson said the plane came down near Woody Road just after 9 a.m., in a heavily wooded area.

He said the pilot told authorities the plane's control stick broke, and that the plane clipped some trees before crashing. Wilson said crews stopped a fuel leak coming from the plane's wing.

Jason A. Smith contributed to this article.