UNC Health pilot, physician hospitalized after small plane crash

A physician and pilot were injured Wednesday following a small plane crash at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, UNC Health and RDU Airport confirmed.

The aircraft involved was a UNC Air Operations medical plane that was returning Dr. Paul Chelminski, an internal medicine physician with UNC Health, from a lecture he gave to medical staff at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Chelminski was taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill and was discharged Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman confirmed to Fox News Digital.

UNC Health identified the pilot as Art Johnson, who joined UNC in 2013. He was taken to Duke University Hospital in Durham and was last listed in fair condition.

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Dr. Paul Chelminski is an internal medicine physician with UNC Health, a spokesman said. He is also a professor of medicine and adjunct professor of pharmacy, according to his online biography. (UNC School of Medicine)

WRAL/WRAZ’s helicopter caught aerials of the small plane crash still on the ground at RDU Airport on April 24, 2024.  (WRAL/WRAZ)

“Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones, and we’re grateful to the first responders who helped following the accident,” UNC Health said in a statement.

The crash caused the airfield to close for flight operations, the airport tweeted at 10:41 a.m. The aircraft accident was said to have happened around 10:10 a.m. One runway was reopened for departing and arriving flights before noon, a subsequent tweet reads.

Local TV station WRAL’s helicopter caught footage of ground debris and the plane with “major front-end and side damage.”

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“It appears to me that something happened on approach or shortly after touchdown,” aviation expert Jim Crouse told WRAL. “There’s a strong vertical component to the aircraft wreckage, meaning the engine is dislodged … the wings appear to be damaged vertically as well as the tail section.”

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) welcome signage in Morrisville, North Carolina, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The cause of the crash has not been disclosed. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board have taken over the investigation, according to ABC11.

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