kills passenger and pilot
By Anne Paine and Dorren Klausnitzer / Staff Writers
Several Germantown residents
poured out of their homes and businesses
yesterday and tried to help two men whose
vintage airplane crashed through the treetops,
skidded across a lawn and smacked against
an unoccupied triplex on Fifth Avenue North.
Both men died.
Rick Loudermilk, 52, Old Hickory Boulevard,
Nashville, who owned a software/computer
programming business, was pronounced
dead at the scene. Photographer and musician Stephen Paul Canaday, 55, Parthenon Avenue, Nashville, was dead on arrival at Meharry General
Hospital after the accident, which happened right
before 11 a.m.
No one on the ground was injured. The cause was still
undetermined last night. Officials were trying to determine
who was piloting the North American SNJ-5
World War II-era, single-engine trainer plane.
Startled witnesses stretching from a downtown highrise to Broadway watched on the clear day as the plane
took a right turn over Bicentennial Capitol Mall, dipped
in a spiral, pulled up and then nose-dived into the
"I knew it couldn't make that turn," said Jerry McDowell,
31, who was driving over Jefferson Street Bridge
at the time.
"It hit the trees and you see bushes and leaves
The plane, which took off from Nashville
International Airport, may have turned
originally to allow photographs.
"The pilot had a photographer and was doing some low-level
work," said Keith Stem, Federal Aviation Administration
While Loudermilk was signed on as the pilot, officials last
night said that type of plane could be flown from the
back or front seat and they weren't certain who had
control at the time.
"We've got a lot of questions to ask," Stem
said. "We don't have any clue as to
whether it was a mechanical problem or
Camera equipment pulled from the wreckage could provide
some answers when the film is developed.
The propeller-driven plane, at least one wing
shorn off and left dangling in a
hackberry tree, skimmed the top of Jack
and Dolores London's garage and knocked
an air conditioner off its base before it came to
rest against a building next door to them on Fifth Avenue
North, between Monroe and Taylor streets.
"I heard the 'womp' when it hit, then another 'womp' and
it slid into the house next door," said Dolores London,
65. Her husband is a former Metro councilman.
The plane cut a swath through the trees, leaving
bits of cable on the ground and a piece
of a wing in a garden. Rammed up
against the building, the tail section,
painted grey with blue and white stripes, jutted
out from a tangle of metal and debris.
The neighborhood jumped into action. London got her
garden hose and people began spraying the plane to
keep down the fire that had begun.
Neighbor Wayne Woelk heard one of the men, Canaday, who was conscious and moaning in the back
"I reached in and unstrapped him and pulled him out," Woelk said.
He was bleeding from a long cut on his leg, Woelk said. He tried to undo Loudermilk's safety belt.
"I couldn't unbuckle him," Woelk said.
Steff Mahan, who ran from behind her home on Fifth Avenue
North, said she didn't know what to do at first.
But another neighbor who is a nurse started with
CPR on Canaday, and Mahan helped with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
until paramedics could take over.
Others directed traffic or tried to keep the
"It's a neighborhood where people aren't afraid
to get involved," Mahan said with a
Police stretched yellow tape around almost a
full block between Monroe and Taylor
streets and Sixth and Fifth Avenue
North. Firefighters and officials with the
mayor's offices of Emergency Management and Neighborhoods
and the Metro Public Works Department
assisted in talking to neighbors, putting foam
on the plane and interviewing witnesses.
Mayor Bill Purcell, who visited the scene, said
that while it was a "great tragedy for
those we lost," the immediate and
well-coordinated actions of the community
along with Metro agents, officers and firefighters
"I was impressed especially with the way this neighborhood
responded," Purcell said. "People were moving
quickly in the midst of great danger to try to save
the pilot and passenger."
A concern came out of yesterday's crash.
"Planes are flying over this area lower and
lower, and it really worries me," said
Irene Boyd, who lives on Fifth Avenue
North. "It's scary."
Purcell said this is an issue that needs
"I don't think the city knows the extent of the
risk," he said. "It's a large city in
the air, too. There are a series of
airports here and a number of planes moving through
the air all the time."
How planes are allowed to move above the city
will be discussed, he said, with the
Metro Nashville Airport Authority
Meanwhile, one neighbor had praise for the
"If he hadn't of pulled out of that (spiral), he
would have taken out two of my
neighbors' houses and ours," said James
Blaylock Jr., 31, who watched the plane's
fall from his back porch on Seventh Avenue North.
Mr. Loudermilk, who may have recently bought the vintage
airplane, had been flying for more than a dozen
years and was known as a friendly, likable man.
"He was great fun to be around," said his
brother John Loudermilk.
Mr. Loudermilk, an airplane and motorcycle enthusiast,
graduated from Overton High School in 1964,
and later Vanderbilt University, where he was on
the swim team.
"He had a love of old aircraft," his brother
He leaves two children, ages 10 and 12.
Mr. Canaday was a pilot and flew helicopters in Vietnam, according to his housesitter, Stanley Hime.
He also was involved in music and played with
the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, a rock
band, for years and worked as tour
manager for Lee Roy Parnell, a country
singer and guitarist, and Marshall Chapman, a Nashville
In a prominent place in his home, Mr. Canaday had hung
a gold record commemorating more than 500,000
single-copy sales of a Daredevils song.
"Everybody loved him," Hime said.
Most recently, Mr. Canaday had been working at Wolf
Camera and Video on 21st Avenue South. He was
known at work for being so helpful he would assist
customers with changing flats or jump-starting cars.
He has a grown daughter in San Diego, Calif.
Funeral arrangements were not complete for
either man yesterday.
The last plane crash within Nashville took place
in 1996 when a U.S. Navy F-14 plummeted
into a residential area in Antioch,
killing five people, including the two
Staff writers Jay Orr and Drew Sullivan contributed to this report. The