Beatrice, Neb. A pilot was injured in a twin-engine plane crash near Beatrice on Sunday.
The small plane came down about 3:30 p.m., hitting U.S. 77 about two miles north of Beatrice, radio station KWBE reported. The plane skidded across the highway before crashing into a ditch and later bursting into flames.
Several witnesses, including Shane Hartner of Home, Kan., pulled the pilot from the burning wreckage.
"The heat from the fire was getting so hot, we was lucky to get him out as fast as we did," Hartner said. "He was hollering, 'Get me out of here! Get me out of here!"'
Hartner said he and the others had trouble opening the plane's doors, so they dragged the man from the plane through a window.
The 55-year-old pilot was flown to BryanLGH West Medical Center in Lincoln, where he was listed in critical condition. He was conscious throughout the ordeal, witnesses said. Officials did not immediately release the man's name, but Gage County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Hatzenbuehler said the pilot was from Albany, Mo., and had stopped in Beatrice to refuel.
The plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Beatrice Municipal Airport, said Karen Jenkins, an aviation safety technician with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Airport spokesman Chuck Hubka said the twin-engine Piper Geronimo was heading back to Missouri when it crashed.
Jenkins said the plane's landing gear was down, indicating the pilot might have been trying to land when the crash occurred.
No other details were immediately available.