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Pilot released from hospital after fiery crash in Everglades

Kenneth McKenzie, 53, severely burned in crash, hoping for full recovery


MIAMI – A pilot who survived a fiery plane crash in the Florida Everglades late last month was released from Jackson Memorial Hospital Friday afternoon.

Kenneth McKenzie, 53, suffered burns in the Aug. 30 crash. His wife was in the plane with him and was treated for minor injuries at Broward Health North.

McKenzie underwent pig skin grafts and will have to undergo extensive rehab, but he was all smiles as he wheeled out of JMH's burn unit.

McKenzie told Local 10 News reporter Todd Tongen that he has at least four more weeks of therapy and dressing changes from home, but he is hoping to make a full recovery.

"I feel great. It is hard to believe how much time has gone by, but it is great to be able to see what the outside of the hospital looks like," McKenzie said. "I know the inside quite well now."

McKenzie and his wife, Sonia, said they were heading to Virginia to visit their daughter when their plane suffered engine trouble just minutes after taking off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

"This needs to be a year of no regrets," McKenzie said. "We all get caught up so much in everything that we are doing, (and) then suddenly when life throws you a side ball or a curve ball and says, 'OK, wake up, there are things going on you need to pay attention to.'"

McKenzie is an experienced pilot who served in the Canadian military. He is also the former chief operating officer of Spirit Airlines.

Despite the crash, McKenzie said he has always loved flying and eventually wants to get back up in the air.

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