JACKSONVILLE, Florida (WTLV) -- PilotGraham Hill was just looking for a good view of the downtown fireworkswhen he took his girlfriend for a New Year's Eve flight over downtownJacksonville.Instead, he was met by gunfire.
"We were just northof the football stadium, at 1,200 feet when there was a loud pop....And that's when I noticed the bullet hole. And so I let her know thatwe had been shot at, and just when I said that I felt blood runningdown my neck."
In a YouTube video,Hill says he handed the controls to his girlfriend when he realizedhe'd been shot in the head, and used his jacket to staunch thebleeding. They landed safely at Craig Field. And he appears to havetaken the incident with a dose of good humor, even posting an X-ray ashis Facebook profile photo.
Jacksonville pilotand flight instructor Chris Hughes, who has actually flown the planethat was hit, heard about the incident in an online pilots' forum.
"Shocked. It's not something you would expect to really run into flying over a city like Jacksonville."
Unfortunately, theproblem of celebratory gunfire is not that rare in Jacksonville. An8-year-old boy was shot in the foot, also on New Year's Eve, and Jacksonville police say they answered 259 callsfor discharged firearms on that day alone.
"Theyknow it is wrong, it is illegal, just like any other law that isbroken, they are out there doing it, they know it is not right, theyjust think they are not going to get caught," JSO spokesperson Melissa Bujeda told First Coast News.
Chris Hughes stillviews the shooting as a freak occurrence. But he will tell his flightstudents that it's just one more thing for a pilot to be prepared for.
"At this point,yeah, I would probably warn them, if they're flying on New Year's Eve orany other major holiday when Americans like to shoot guns, then becareful. That's probably what I'd warn them."
This incident hasof course gotten a lot of attention in aviation circles. But the folkswe spoke to at the FAA say the chances of it happening again are almostinfinitesimally small.