Local pilot reunited with rescuers during ceremony

A local pilot whose plane crashed last month was reunited with his rescuers Monday, April 14 during an appreciation ceremony in Fairhope.

Fairhope city leaders say it was their quick thinking that saved the pilot’s life. His plane crashed at Sonny Callahan Airport March 8.

Roger James is back on his feet and recovering well.

Although he wears a plate over his chest and relies on a walker, he says he is thankful to have such good friends and fellow pilots.

“For these guys to go in there with a plane on fire — that says a lot about their internal fortitude,” said James.

Richard Snarr was one of the four men who first rushed to James’ aide.

He said in another 30 seconds the blazing inferno would have consumed the entire aircraft, preventing anyone from helping James.

“It took all four of us. Any one little would have went wrong and he wouldn’t be with us today,” said Snarr. “He was trapped between the seat and the door post of the aircraft. I had to break the back of the seat off. Mike, the other lineman — if he wouldn’t have gotten in there and got a hold of him he would still be in it … Robert wouldn’t have been able to fight fire with fire extinguisher.”

Robert Tremble, who also jumped in to help said, “It’s good to see him and I know he would have done the same for any of the rest of us.”

Fairhope city Firefighters and first responders were honored for their roll in controlling the chaos that day.

James says this is the second plane crash he has survived.

A preliminary report indicates that a helicopter had been flying over the area where James tried to land, causing turbulence issues.

The crash remains under investigation.

James says he is just happy to be alive.

“When that plane crashed I was knocked out,” he said. “I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the hospital. Everyday is just another challenge and having friends like this – my recovery is coming along very rapidly.”

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