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Plane crashes at airport; pilot escapes with minor injuries

COVINGTON -- A pilot who was finishing up his hours to get his flying license crashed his plane Tuesday afternoon while doing "touch and goes" at the Covington Municipal Airport in Oxford. "Touch and goes" are quick take-offs and landings often used to compress training by getting more practice in a shorter period of time.

According to Covington Police Department spokesman Detective D.J. Seals, a call came in to 911 dispatch at 2:37 p.m. that a plane was down on the runway.

Firefighters with the Covington Fire Department rushed to the scene and found the plane engulfed in flames, but the pilot had already managed to escape. He suffered minor injuries and was able to discuss the crash with responders, Seals said.

Seals said 63-year-old Antenor Velazco of Lake Spivey in Clayton County was flying a Cessna 172 Skyhawk single-engine plane which he leased from Peachtree-DeKalb Airport. He was the only occupant of the plane.

"He was flying from east to west and while doing the touch and goes, he apparently lost control, went off the runway and spun around at least once and when he came to a stop, the plane caught fire," Seals said. "The Covington Fire Department got the fire out very quickly. The FAA is now en route."

The airport closed Tuesday afternoon following the crash and Seals said it would not reopen until the Federal Aviation Administration gave the OK. He said CPD officers were protecting the wreckage, awaiting FAA instructions.

"The FAA will investigate to determine the cause of the crash," Seals said.