Young Pilot Who Hiked From Snowy Plane Crash in Shorts Sends Text Message: 'I Am Alive'

A student pilot who hiked a mile in waist-deep Montana snow to meet rescuers he alerted by sending a text message from his cell phone after his plane crashed into a mountainside has left the hospital and is eager to return to flight training.

Andrew Scheffer, 18, was discharged Thursday, a day after his rescue, St. Vincent Healthcare said.

The freshman at Rocky Mountain College was on a solo training flight from Billings, Mont., to Powell, Wyo., when the small plane crashed Tuesday night on Big Pryor Mountain, about 40 miles south of Billings.

His grandmother, Carolyn Scheffer of Friday Harbor, Wash., said Scheffer is eager to return to his aviation studies.

"His dad asked him, and he said, 'I want to fly,'" she said. "He has a gift for it and a heart for it."

After crashing, Scheffer spent a freezing night on the mountain wrapped in emergency blankets and huddled in the tail section of the wrecked plane. He hiked out wearing shorts and tennis shoes.

Scheffer sent the text message, "I've crashed and I am alive," followed by a phone call in which he said, "I'm with the aircraft, I'm cold and I have a sore shoulder," Dan Hargrove, Director of Aviation for Rocky Mountain College, told kiroTV.

He later was treated for frostbite, a concussion and various cuts and bruises.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The school's aviation director, Dan Hargrove, said the program had suspended training flights for three days in the aftermath of the crash. He said aviation staff and students are reviewing procedures and safety practices, including plane maintenance.

Hargrove said this week's crash was the first for the program, which has 91 students and a fleet of eight Piper and Beechcraft airplanes based at Billings Logan International Airport.

A 1991 crash that killed three people, including two Rocky students, occurred outside of the school's authority and in a rented plane, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.