Indiana plane crash survivor on the mend, feels lucky

COLUMBUS, Ind. - A southern Indiana man who survived a July plane crash that killed a friend and destroyed a home said he considers himself lucky despite his injuries.

Dennis King was a passenger in the experimental plane that crashed into a Columbus neighborhood on July 25, badly burning King and the pilot, 81-year-old Gerald Clayton. Clayton later died. King has undergone a series of skin graft surgeries but is on the mend.

You can see our gallery from the crash here .

King, 60, told The Republic he's now able to do everything he could before the accident after 14 weeks spent either in the hospital or driving between Columbus and Indianapolis for treatment. He still wears special garments on his torso and thighs to promote healing and reduce scarring and faces another surgery to treat swelling or a hernia.

"The burns aren't bothering me hardly at all. I've regained my flexibility," he said.

"I'm glad I don't have any burns on my face," he added. "That way I don't have to answer so many questions when I go out in public. All my burns are in areas I can cover with clothing."

His memories of the crash are still fresh, though, and the man who already describes himself as "a nervous pilot" said he has worried that he could get too jittery in the air to be a good pilot.

"I'm not quite sure how I feel," he said of flying again.

Bill Ellison, who shares King's passion for flying, predicts his friend will get back in the air.

"I think he'll fly again, and I will fly with him. You know, your life can end at any time. And you have to keep doing the things you love."

King said he is glad no one on the ground was injured in the crash.

"As we came in toward that house, just before we hit it, I was assuming (Clayton) and I would be killed instantly. But I remember thinking, `I sure hope no one is in that house.' When I learned a woman had been inside but she didn't get hurt, I was so happy, almost giddy," King said. "I was laughing and joking with the ambulance attendants as they drove me to the hospital."

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