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Plane without pilot flies over a mile after unexpected takeoff, Nebraska officials say

·1 min read

For 1.5 miles Tuesday evening, a vintage aircraft soared the Nebraska skies at heights of 200 feet.

There was only one problem — no one was on board.

The plane was undergoing maintenance at the Central City Airport “when at some point the airplane began to travel down the runway,” according to the Merrick County Sheriff’s Office.

The pilot-less plane eventually crashed in a cornfield in rural Central City, a town about 120 miles west of Omaha. Described by the Lincoln Journal Star as a 1941 Piper, the plane flew for more than a mile.

The sheriff’s office posted photos showing the 80-year-old plane damaged in the cornfield from the crash Tuesday night. No one was injured.

A plane crashed Tuesday in Central City, Nebraska, after it took off without a pilot.
A plane crashed Tuesday in Central City, Nebraska, after it took off without a pilot.
A plane crashed Tuesday in Central City, Nebraska, after it took off without a pilot.
A plane crashed Tuesday in Central City, Nebraska, after it took off without a pilot.

Piper J-3’s, which were first built in 1937, were used as trainer and sport planes, according to the Smithsonian Institution. Flying Mag called the type of plane “one of the most revered aircraft of all time.”

It’s unclear why the plane unexpectedly took to the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board cleared the scene, the sheriff’s office said.

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