Tulsa Couple Talks About Thanksgiving Trip Nightmare

Tuesday, November 30th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa couple is giving thanks after a Thanksgiving plane trip became a bizarre story of survival.

The last Thanksgiving of the millennium will definitely be memorable for the Driver family. "It’s a night I'll never forget,” said Chastity Driver. The night before Thanksgiving, they rented a small plane from Bristol Aviation in Tulsa to fly to see family in Tennessee. Brian Driver, a licensed pilot, says in hindsight he should have called off the trip before they ever took off. "When we went over the field to get on the plane, it took them about two hours to get it started," said Driver.

Once the plane was ready, the Drivers took off on their trip to Tennessee. "I was so cold,” explained Mrs. Driver. “We kept hearing a bang and a clatter. We thought maybe our luggage door was open.” she said. Her husband used the radio to contact the closest airport in Clinton, Arkansas. The control tower gave them permission to land at the airfield and a mechanic checked the airplane. "He said, ‘The nut has come loose. You just need to tighten it up," remembered Driver.

After some adjustments to the plane, the Drivers took off again, flying to Tennessee. "All of the sudden, the engine started cutting out. We were losing power," said Mrs. Driver. Then the plane’s engine started coughing and sputtering. "At that time I knew we were in trouble,” said Driver. I didn't want to tell her." Mrs. Driver says she thought "OK, I’m going to die." "I was thinking of my family, and my friends,” she said.

Suddenly, a car’s headlights lit up a highway below. That’s how State Highway 50 became Driver’s runway. "We were coming down so fast, I didn't know what to think," Mrs. Driver remembered. The landing was perfect, but a car in the opposite lane clipped the plane, sending the aircraft into a ditch. The Drivers managed to escape unharmed, crediting help from above. "There was one person riding on our wing and that was God,” said Mrs. Driver. "He was with us that whole entire day."

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash. A spokesman for Bristol Aviation told the News on Six that whatever settlement they ultimately work out with the Drivers will remain between the couple and the company.