Video: Pilot Survives Bullet Wound on New Year’s Eve Flight

As related in the accompanying video, Gram Hill thought it would be fun to take his girlfriend for a flight last New Year’s Eve and watch the local fireworks from 1,200 feet. At around 11:15 p.m. local time, they took off from Craig Airport in his rented Cessna Skyhawk, circling his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

Just before the fireworks started at midnight, without warning, he heard what he described as a “loud pop” as he leaned forward to look out the windshield while the airplane was in a right bank. His first thought was to ensure his girlfriend was okay, then he scanned the cockpit, noticing a small hole in the pilot’s side window. Only then did he feel blood pooling around his shirt collar.

He set course for the airport and asked his girlfriend to take over the controls as he wadded up his jacket to stanch the blood from a wound in the back of his head. Hill was able to land safely, and later discovered the bullet had grazed his head on its path through the window and up into the headliner of the Cessna, where fragments were found embedded in the upper wing panel. No word on the source of the gunshot, or whether police assumed the shooter targeted the airplane or simply fired into the air in celebration.

Watch Hill's recount of the incident here.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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