Ultra-light plane crashes into Arundel house

August 10, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane and Dana Hedgpeth | Gregory P. Kane and Dana Hedgpeth,Sun Staff Writers

A single-engine airplane crashed into a split-level house in Brockbridge last night, leaving the pilot with severe head injuries, but harming no one in the house, authorities said.

The pilot, Gary Hankins, 45, of the 300 block of Dameron St., Maryland City, was flown to the Prince George's Hospital Center. He later was listed in critical, but stable condition.

Randy Franklin, who lives across the street from where the Ultra Light aircraft crashed in the 3500 block of River Bridge Way, was in his garden when the plane come down shortly before 6:30 p.m. "I just heard two or three pops, like shotguns when the engine gave out and then it died and glided right into the house," said Mr. Franklin, 34.

"I've heard many a times planes like that one have their engines cut off on them and then they try to restart them, but this one was circling around and around and then I heard the engine just die and I ran to the front to see where it was going and, boom, it hit right into the house."

Firefighters from Anne Arundel, Howard and Prince George's counties took 90 minutes to free Mr. Hankins, said Lt. Robert Kornmann.

"There were three children and two adults in the house. The plane landed in the kitchen through the roof," Lieutenant Kornmann said.

No one in the house was injured, but the house received "substantial structural damage," Lieutenant Kornmann said.

Neighbors said the plane left Suburban Airport, flew about a mile then circled back over the homes.

John Ritchman, 50, who lives in the Parkway Village mobile home park about one-fourth mile from the crash, said he called Suburban Airport when after he heard the plane "circling around with this loud buzzing noise, and I just knew it wasn't going to make it to the airport."

"The plane came about 80 feet above my house and you just couldn't tell exactly what it was going to hit, but when you heard the engines stop, you knew it wasn't going to make it to the airport," said Kevin Armstrong, 38, who lives on Eagle Harbor Street, about one-half mile from the crash.

Three residents in the 3500 block of River Bridge Way tried to help the pilot out of the plane before firefighter units arrived.

"I came through the front door and saw the pilot moving around in the plane and I got the ladder and got right up on the roof," said Bob Franklin, 61, who lives across the street.

"I didn't even think at first about getting up there, I just did it. We did the best we could to pull back the cover, but [the plane] was stuck in there too tight."

Cheryl Kerr, 36, who also lives across the street, called the police and stood below the plane, asking if the pilot was OK.

"I've always been scared by the airport being so close," said Ms. Kerr. "Whenever those little planes fly low, I can always feel a pitter-patter in my heart."

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