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Pilot uninjured in Covington plane crash
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Aviation officials investigated the plane crash site at Covington Municipal Airport Wednesday, and the plane's remains were later hauled away by Atlanta Salvage.

A Cessna 172 Skyhawk airplane crashed Tuesday afternoon, but pilot Andy Velazco of Jonesboro was unharmed.

George Farinas, an inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration, visited the crash site Wednesday morning and later conducted interviews with various officials and the pilot. Farinas will not determine the cause of the crash, but said he will report to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Velazco, an orthopedic surgeon for Resurgens in Henry County, was practicing a specific type of takeoff around 2:30 p.m. when he lost control and crashed in a ditch near the runway, according to Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello. The pilot said a gust of wind caused him to lose control when he was only a few feet off the ground.

The right wing detached during the crash, causing the plane to catch fire, but the blaze was extinguished by firefighters, said Passariello, who credited their quick arrival.

The aircraft was built in 2006 and owned by Wheeler Equipment Leasing in Gainesville, Ga. and was rented from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Passariello said Velazco had 143 hours of flying experience, according to his log book, and was training to acquire his pliot's license.

The Covington airport is frequently used by trainees because it has less air traffic than many other metro airports.

A DeKalb police helicopter crashed Sept. 24 during a simulated forced landing maneuver as part of a re-certification test. The helicopter also caught fire and was destroyed, but the pilot and instructor both escaped with minor injuries. According to the national transportation board's official report, the pilot had 929 hours of flight experience, and the instructor had 4,100 total hours.

According to the national transportation board, a total of 1,435 general aviation accidents occurred in the U.S. in 2010, with 267 fatal accidents. Covington is a general aviation airport.