A student pilot and her instructor were injured yesterday when theirsingle-engine training plane crashed into an empty building lot in Laurel.
The Piper Tomahawk plane, which took off from nearby Suburban Airport at 5:19 p.m., traveled about a half-mile before crashing just north of the airport, county police and fire department spokesmensaid. Both the airport and crash site are in Anne Arundel County.
Student pilot Sharon Lynn Meigs, 36, of the 12100 block of Amblewood Drive in Laurel, Prince George's County, was conscious when paramedics and eyewitnesses arrived. She suffered head and facial injuriesand was flown to Prince George's Trauma Unit, where she was listed in stable condition.
Instructor John Douglas Witeig, 24, of the 6700 block Duckett's Lane in Elkridge was not as seriously injured and was taken to Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital were he was treated and released, police spokesman V. Richard Molloy said.
"She kept asking him, 'What did I do wrong? What did I do wrong?' and the other person -- I guess he was the instructor -- kept saying she didn't do anything wrong, she couldn't have done anything to prevent it. It just sounded like an engine failure," said eyewitness Douglas Dodd, whose brother is a pilot.
Dodd was driving home on the 400 block of Brock Bridge Road when he saw and heard the plane flying at a low altitude.
"It sounded like it sputtered and stalled, and then it started drifting from side to side until it came to the left and hit the power lines. The tension in the power lines snapped branches off a tree, turned the plane around and sling-shotted it to the ground," Dodd said.
Meigs, who was at the controls, reported hearing "a strange sound from the engine" shortly before the crash, Capt. Gary Sheckells ofthe county Fire Department said.
The crash-site is being cleared to make way for a subdivision of 30 homes, neighbor Stephen MacDonaldsaid.
MacDonald said he has seen three emergency landings in his neighborhood in the 10 years he has lived near the one-runway airport, which serves only single- and double-engine planes.
"They're always buzzing around us," he said.