80-year-old unoccupied plane takes off in Nebraska, crashes into cornfield

CENTRAL CITY, Neb. — You’ve heard of solo flights. This plane had no one piloting it.

>> Read more trending news

Nobody was hurt Tuesday when an unoccupied small plane took off, flew for nearly two miles and then crashed in a cornfield, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported. The 1941 Piper aircraft was undergoing maintenance with its engine running when it taxied down the runway at Central City Airport at about 7:33 p.m. CDT, the newspaper reported.

According to a news release from the Merrick County Sheriff’s Office, the plane climbed to about 200 feet and traveled for 1.5 miles before crashing into the cornfield, KETV reported.

“No persons were on board the airplane during this incident,” the sheriff’s office said. “No injuries were reported. Both the FAA and the NTSB were contacted and the scene was cleared by officials with both agencies.”

So, how does a plane take off with nobody on board?

Merrick County Sgt. Jake Bauer told KSNB said the 1941 Piper is a simple aircraft with no automatic starter or key ignition. To start it, a person must spin the propellor by hand.

Bauer said it was easy for the engine to throttle up to a level that would not allow the mechanic to catch the plane, the television station reported.

The plane was considered a total loss, authorities said.