1 dead, 1 hurt in plane crash in east Mississippi

JACKSON – (AP) Eleven years ago, Tommy Rose died in a plane crash at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev.

On Wednesday, his son Tom Rose was an instructor when flying student Rodney Keith Usry crashed the single-engine plane both were aboard at a rural Mississippi airport.

Usry, a 57-year-old Hickory resident, died after the Cessna 172 clipped a power line as he tried to land at James H. Easom Field in Newton about 9:30 a.m., said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. The plane slammed into the ground upside down in a wooded area on a hill off the end of the runway, said Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Warren Strain.

Rose survived. Also a Hickory resident, Rose was airlifted to Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, where he was in intensive care Wednesday evening. A hospital employee said she couldn’t disclose Rose’s condition. Robert Morgan, a Newton lawyer who has handled business for the family, said Rose is expected to survive.

Messages left for relatives of Rose weren’t returned, and current listings for Usry’s relatives couldn’t be found.

Usry’s body will undergo an autopsy in Jackson. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash of the 1969 Cessna, which was registered to the Newton Flying Club.

In 2002, Tommy Rose was flying an experimental sport plane about 200 feet off the ground when he hit turbulence and a stabilizer broke off the tail during the National Championship Air Races. His plane pitched into the sagebrush, killing him. Tom Rose told The Associated Press in 2011 that his father, who had been flying in the air races for four years, had pushed his plane beyond its limits in an effort to win.

“My dad passed doing what he loved, and I think so many of those guys who fly out there would say the same thing,” Rose said then. “They’d rather go this way than in a nursing home.”

The family, which owns mobile home dealerships in Hickory and Meridian, has not shied away from flying. They honored Tommy Rose in 2003 by continuing his birthday fly-in at the family’s private airport in Hickory. More than 100 people attended, including former Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice. Tom and brothers Clay and Tim have pilots’ licenses today, according to FAA records. Tom Rose is rated as an airline transport pilot who can fly various planes including a class of private jets.

Mike Houghton, president of the air races, said he knew Tommy Rose and said an airmanship award is presented annually in his memory.

“It’s a passion that’s passed down from father to son, and more and more these days from father to daughter,” Houghton said in an interview. “Our prayers are with Tom and we hope he pulls through this.”

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