News

Four injured in aircraft crash in Lebanon County

Written by John Latimer/Lebanon Daily News | Dec 22, 2015 8:06 PM
plane_down_lebanon_county.jpg

An aircraft was down in Jackson Township with injuries reported. The severity of the injuries are not known at this time(Photo: John Latimer, Lebanon Daily News)

(Myerstown) -- Four men bound for Illinois were injured when their single-engine aircraft crashed on take off in heavy fog at Deck Airport Tuesday night.

Gary Deck Sr., manager of the airport and son of owner Clyde Deck, said the plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, appeared to be in trouble from the start, managing to climb 200 to 300 feet before coming down in a farmer's field several hundred yards east of the runway.

"They really veered off," he said.

When he got to the scene of the crash, which occurred about 5:30 p.m., one man was spread out on a wing, another was laying in a field and two others were in their seats inside the plane, including the pilot, Deck said. The men had been in the area on business and were flying to southern Illinois with a scheduled stop in West Virginia for refueling.

"They weren't in great shape. I wanted to help them but I had to stay on (the phone) with 911," said Deck, who said he was the first on the scene of the crash.

Because of the foggy conditions, Deck said he asked the pilot before taking off he felt confident to fly and was told yes. However, he noticed the pilot had his landing lights on when he took off, which may speak to inexperience with flying in fog.

"That's the worse thing you can do because of all the glare," he said.

State police troopers from the Lickdale station were at the scene, as where crews from Prescott, Goodwill and Keystone Hook & Ladder fire companies. Area fire police also played a critical role guiding emergency equipment into the scene and traffic passed the airport located at S. Ramona Road in Jackson Township.

Access to the crash down a muddy path was difficult for heavy equipment, so ATV Gators were used to transport the victims to waiting ambulances from First Aid & Safety Patrol, Schaefferstown and Myerstown EMS, which took them to area hospitals.

The condition of the men was not available Tuesday night.

One woman who lives on a neighboring farm and declined to give her name, said her father heard the crash and described it to her.

"He said he heard it revving for takeoff like the always do. Then heard it flying and sputtering overhead and then he heard a loud boom," the woman said.

Deck said there was no flame or explosion. The hood of the engine was ripped off and the doors and windows of the fuselage where open on the plane which rested on its belly in the field.

Deck said that he has been in touch with Federal Aviation Administration officials who planned to send someone to investigate the crash on Wednesday. The area around the badly damage plane was secured with police tape.

Below is an earlier version of this story:

(Myerstown) -- An airplane taking off from Deck Airport in Jackson Township, Lebanon County, crashed this evening, while taking off in heavy fog.

According to the state police, there were four people in the plane.

All were conscious and taken to the hospital.

The extent of the injuries was not available at this time.

According to the state police, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been contacted, and they are expected to begin an investigation tomorrow.

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