MARYLAND (DC News Now) — Pilot Patrick Merkle sat down in an exclusive on-camera interview after making it out of a Montgomery County plane crash alive. He talked to DC News Now about how he survived not only this crash, but also a prior crash 30 years ago.

Merkle was flying from New York back home to Maryland when his plane crashed into power lines Sunday evening. He and his passenger made it out alive and largely uninjured after being suspended around 100 feet in the air for over seven hours.

Pilot Patrick Merkle stands next to his 45-year-old Mooney M20J, the plane that he crashed in Montgomery County on Sunday.

In the second part of this exclusive interview with DC News Now’s Joseph Olmo, Merkle admitted that he was flying too low, accompanied by audio from air traffic control revealing the moment they realized the problem with the altitude.

Merkle was flying his 45-year-old Mooney M20J, a small aircraft. Sunday’s weather was a challenge, with the dark of night and foggy skies impacting vision.

However, this was not the first crash Merkle had walked away from. He was flying a small plane in 1992 that crashed — all five people who were on board that flight survived.

The National Transportation Safety Board report about the crash said that the probable cause was the pilot’s poor in-flight decision.

We asked the FAA what happens if a pilot gets into more than one crash in their career.

If our safety inspectors believe a pilot may have violated a regulation, they can address simple mistakes with counseling or documented improvements. If they believe the violation was egregious or willful, they will recommend a sanction based on the facts. The sanction can range from a warning letter to a license suspension or revocation.


Watch the interview with DC News Now’s Joseph Olmo in the player above.