DALTON, Ga. — Almost four years to the day after his wife succumbed to the ordeal of breast cancer, Michael Green lost his life when he died in an aircraft crash Saturday in northern Whitfield County.
For Tom Phillips, who worked with Green when both were young disc jockeys and who had been a lifelong friend, the timing wasn’t a coincidence. Sue Green died on Sept. 29, 2015. "Big Mike," as Phillips called him, died on Sept. 28.
“One day off,” Phillips said. “She really was a saint, and they were both just the best people. It’s a shame.”
Michael Green, 61, died Saturday shortly after 7 p.m. when the Windlass weight-shift trike — a combination of a single-engine, propeller-driven cockpit with a hang-glider wing attached above — he was flying crashed off of Bryant Circle. The location is near Pratermill Flight Park Airport, which is a private-use grass strip, according to the website AirNav.com. The website lists Bruce Cantrell as the owner, and when contacted Tuesday, Cantrell declined to talk to a reporter.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, and NTSB investigator Lynn Spencer said she would have a preliminary report “within two weeks.”
“At this point, we are still collecting facts and interviewing witnesses,” said Spencer, who is based out of the NTSB’s Virginia offices. “Preliminary indications are that the engine was producing power at the time of impact. We will collect facts and hopefully within two weeks have a preliminary report out. Anything else I could tell you now would be very preliminary in nature.”
According to an incident report from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, a witness said he believed the engine stalled before the crash. The witness said he heard the engine rev up loudly “at a high RPM (revolutions per minute) and he thought the aircraft had stalled.” Another witness said the aircraft was low in the air along the tree line when he saw it spiral downward and crash.
Phillips said Green was a commercial airline pilot for Eastern Airlines and for American Airlines before retiring. Spencer confirmed Green held an “airline transport pilot certificate” which she said was the highest certification for a pilot.
One of Phillips’ favorite pictures of Green showed him and a co-pilot looking back from the cockpit with Waffle House hats on.
“He said, ‘Look, we have part-time jobs!’ He had that kind of sense of humor,” Phillips said. “He was quite a radio celebrity in Chattanooga on WFLI, and he had that radio voice too when he was talking to passengers during flights. He was a character.”
Phillips said Green was a graduate of Westside High School and also had worked at WBLJ radio station in Dalton. He said Green and his wife retired to the Beaverdale area and he lived near where he crashed.
“He will really be missed,” Phillips said.