Chloe Veal and her friend piloting the plane where on a routine time building flight from Destin.
CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Minutes is all Chloe Veal and her friend piloting a small plane had after they lost the engine. They ultimately chose to crash into the Clayton County woods.
“I’m alive. I am extremely blessed and highly favored,” said the safety pilot.
The two were on a routine time building flight from Destin when the engine failed. Veal was the safety pilot while her friend was piloting the plane.
Veal has her commercial pilots license and 17 years of experience. She added that the night of the crash she and her friend were practicing for mandated required hours of night flying to work at an airline.
A video released a day after the incident showed their plane flying low. In the video, an onlooker expressed his concern at the altitude before it ultimately crashed on Oct. 10 in a field in Jonesboro near Tara Beach Lane. The video submitted by a viewer to 11Alive showed him filming from the side of the road.
When Veal saw the video, she couldn’t believe how she and her friend walked away alive.
“I look at the video and ask myself ‘How did we survive?’ I give it to 17 years of pilot experience and just God because this could have turned out totally different than what it did,” said the safety pilot.
Only about 10% of airplane crash victims survive, according to the safety pilot. Veal said she feels lucky to be a part of that statistics.
However, Veal did not walk away completely unscathed. She said she needs full-time care after multiple injuries.
“I’m not really able to take care of myself. My arm is broken, my is nose broken and my foot is broken in three places,” said Veal.
A split-second decision
Veal described the moments she and her co-pilot friend knew something was wrong. They were only flying at 4,500 feet before losing the engine. After the failure, she tried to restart it several times, but they contacted air traffic control when that did not work.
“It was pitch black and all we could see was black,” Veal described.
Clayton County plane crash
When the two women spoke to air traffic control, they were advised the nearest airport was seven miles away from their location.
They knew they were not going to make it.
When the women asked for help, air traffic control advised that they land on a road or in a field, but they only saw neighborhoods.
“When we made that decision and when we lost our engine, we knew that it was a big chance that we were not going to make it alive,” she said. “So, we sacrificed our lives and decided to leave the residential neighborhoods that we saw.”
The women crash landed on top of the trees.
“The branches kept us alive. We purposely stalled the plane right on top of the trees and allowed the branches to keep us alive. I saw the whole thing. I never closed my eyes,” she said.
As the plane was going down, Veal told the pilot in command to continue flying the plane.
“I remember her saying, ‘This is it, friend.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t want to die. Continue to fly the plane and don’t close your eyes,'” the co-pilot stressed to her friend.
After the crash happened, Veal said that they were stuck in the field for three hours before first responders and the Federal Aviation Administration were able to get the scene.
She explained how an iPad with cellular service allowed them to get in contact with family members. She was able to share her location and loved ones called for help. The FAA and first responders then flooded the scene to respond to the crash.
Veal said when she heals, she still wants to continue flying. For those who would like to contribute to her medical bills, click here.
Watch her full interview below: