A single-engine plane that was making its second landing attempt at a small Carroll County airstrip yesterday crashed into a thicket of trees about 200 feet from the side of the runway, slightly injuring the pilot, authorities reported.
Raymond Guggenheim, the 75-year-old pilot, escaped with only a bump on his right leg, but his $18,000 Cessna 150 Commuter was destroyed, he said yesterday in a telephone interview from his home in Mount Wolf, Pa.
Mr. Guggenheim, who has been flying Cessnas for more than 40 years, was approaching the asphalt runway at Clearview Airpark off Route 97 between Westminster and Berrett shortly before 10 a.m. when "a gust of wind pushed the plane toward the trees," he said.
He took the plane up and tried a second landing, but another gust of wind hit the plane and pushed it into the woods, he said.
"I was really surprised, especially when I saw the trees getting nearer and nearer," Mr. Guggenheim said.
The plane's single engine stalled and the aircraft started falling. "It was so fast, I didn't have that much time to think," he said.
The plane crashed at 10:03 a.m., according to state police.
Mr. Guggenheim, who was alone in the plane, walked away from the downed aircraft and met state police investigators.
"I was scared, really scared," he said, recalling that he saw gasoline leaking from the engine.
Clearview Airpark -- a small airstrip about eight miles south of Westminster -- is used mostly by recreational fliers. Airport officials said yesterday's crash was the first at the airstrip since December 1985.
Tfc. Matt Jones, who was investigating the accident, said the pilot was "super lucky" because the $18,000 plane "was totaled."
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the accident, Trooper Jones said.
Firefighters from Winfield, Gamber and Sykesville responded to the crash, but the plane did not catch fire, authorities said.
Mr. Guggenheim said yesterday was the first time he has ever lost control of a Cessna since he began flying in the 1950s in Geneva, Switzerland, where he owned a watchmaking company until he retired 10 years ago. He and his wife moved to Mount Wolf, near York, shortly after his retirement, he said.
The pilot's trip yesterday was supposed to be a simple 25-minute flight from York to Clearview.
"I wanted to fly there, it's quite a lovely little airpark," Mr. Guggenheim said. "I hadn't been there in quite a long time."
Another pilot offered him a flight back to the York Airport, where, Mr. Guggenheim said, he got in his car and drove home.
"I'll have to think it over again," he said of whether or not he will take to the skies again.