KNOXVILLE - The Knoxville powered parachute community is mourning the loss of a friend.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office said Stanley Decoursey, 58, of Powell, died after his powered parachute crashed on Sunday. Decoursey was the pilot. His passenger Kenneth Atkins, 54, was hurt and remains at UT Medical Center.
Witnesses reported seeing a paraglider flying low before crashing into a wooded area around 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon near Barhabor Way, by Turkey Creek Road.
Eric Majni and Rocky Crawford flew with Decoursey about once a week. On Sunday, Decoursey sent out a text message to see if his friends were going flying on such a beautiful day.
"That was his last communication with the group," Crawford said.
"We're all just kind of in shock really," Majni said.
The group of guys have been flying powered parachutes for more than 20 years. About a year and half ago, Decoursey joined the group when he started flying.
"He was a new pilot that had a passion for the sport. We'd go up once a week or every other week, but he was flying every other day," Crawford said.
On Sunday afternoon, Manji and Decoursey were up in the air at the same time.
"He actually lifted off before we got to the field. He headed west and we went north," Manji said. "We saw Lifestar come downtown and a short time later had some texts that there was an accident so we had a pretty good idea it was Stan," he added.
The two men said Decoursey’s death will change the way they fly.
"It definitely makes you aware of the dangers involved and it makes you be more careful," Majni said.
But they know Decoursey would want them to keep taking off.
“He wouldn't want us to stop," Crawford said, "Even though it's tragic and it's absolutely tragic, he was doing what he loved."
Crawford and Majni said Decoursey was a qualified pilot. He had all the proper training and was certified to fly with a passenger.
To fly a single seat power parachute you don't have to have a license. To fly with a passenger, as Decoursey was, you must have a sport pilot's license. His friends said that is what he had.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
© 2017 WBIR.COM