Rick Elmhorst Bay News 9
Plane Crash Didn't Crush Teen's Dream of Being a Pilot
October 16, 2012
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  • Rick Elmhorst

    A Polk County high school student isn’t letting the fact that he almost lost his life in a plane crash stop him from his dream of being a pilot.

    Phillip Harrington and the pilot of a small plane survived the crash at a south Lakeland airport last November. But Harrington had severe burns on his face, arms and legs.

    His flight instructor just happened to be nearby when the crash happened and ran to help but assumed the worst before he got to the scene.

    “With the smoke billowing up over the trees, no, I didn’t know. That is as bad as it gets,” said Mike Zidzeiunas.

    Harrington had been able to free himself from the burning plane after the seat belt melted away.

    “I don’t remember getting out but I remember running around after. Then my mind goes black after there,” he said.
    Harrington credits God for his survival.

    “My biggest belief is in faith and I know there was somebody out there protecting me. There is no other way,” he said.

    Harrington spent weeks in the hospital but a little more than a month after the crash he was flying again. He takes flying lessons after school and said he never even considered letting the crash hold him back from his dream of being a pilot.

    “It’s all I have ever wanted to do since I was five years old. I wanted to fly an airplane,” he said.

    Mike Zidzeiunas is inspired by Harrington’s resolve.

    “It takes a little bit of stubbornness and a little bit of courage. A lot of it actually and he’s got it,” he said.

    “If God didn’t mean for me to be a pilot he wouldn’t have put the passion in my heart,” said Harrington.

    His mom is nervous about his flying so he calls her before he takes off and after he lands. He flew to Georgia this past weekend.