Elderly man dies after crashing WWII plane into Catawba Co. bank


CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (FOX 46) — One person is dead after a small plane crashed early Saturday afternoon in Long View, North Carolina.

Catawba County emergency officials said the plane went down around 1:00 p.m. into the BB&T Bank on 1st Ave SW.

The pilot and sole passenger of the plane has been identified as 81-year-old George Baxter Harris. Investigators say he died on impact.

A fuel problem is believed to have been the cause of the crash. Harris was flying a 1944 Culver PQ-14, a wooden WWII plane. 

“This is a relatively small plane, single engine, does not carry a whole lot of fuel,” Karyn Yaussy from Catawba County Emergency Management said. 

The plan was flying north when the aircraft clipped the trees and hit the bank’s drive threw ATM. 

“Everything I think about, what the pilot must have been thinking moments before he crashed, it’s just a terrible situation,” Danielle Dayton said. 

Dayton told FOX 46 Charlotte she can’t imagine the panic that Harris may have gone through as his plane went down. She said the Hickory Airport is less than one mile from the scene of the crash. 

“Just try to think of it as… he done it doing something he loved,” Dayton said. 

Officials said there is minimal damage to the bank and thankfully no one was inside.

“This situation where no one else got hurt is probably the best possible outcome if that had to happen,” Yaussy said. 

Officials said they will continue their investigation for the next 24 hours.

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