Man Crashes Plane in Geico Parking Lot

In town for the Fly-In, Jim Goodyear of Newton, AL, is in stable condition.

LAKELAND - It could have gone far worse for a man who crashed a light experimental airplane into the parking lot of Geico on Wednesday morning: The plane was severely damaged, but it appears he will survive.

Jim Goodyear, 47, from Newton, Ala., was in stable condition late Wednesday at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

About 11 a.m., Goodyear landed his aluminum Hummel Bird homebuilt airplane in the parking lot of Geico, 3535 W. Pipkin Road, which is very close to the grounds of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

The wooden propeller of the plane was splintered into hundreds of pieces and scattered widely around the lot. The engine was separated from the fuselage, which was badly damaged.

Goodyear was alone in the plane. Lakeland Police spokesman Jack Gillen said Goodyear was flown to LRMC. He was in the area for Sun 'n Fun at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, but it was unclear how long he had been here or what his flight plans were.

Gillen said the cause of the crash has not been determined and probably won't be until investigators can interview Goodyear.

Gillen said the Federal Aviation Administration has taken over the investigation.

Remarkably, cars on the lot near where the plane crashed received only a few scratches, and none was badly damaged.

In April 1998, an Ohio man was killed when the pilot of an experimental light plane clipped a corner of the Geico building at 3535 Medulla Road soon after taking off from Sun 'n Fun.

Geico built a more spacious building nearby on Pipkin Road and moved there in October 1999. The old building was the site of the fatality; the new building the site of Wednesday's hard landing.

This is the second plane crash related to this year's Sun 'n Fun. On Monday, two Ohio men were killed when their plane crashed near Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

Rick Rousos can be reached at or 863-802-7516.

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