Two men killed in crash of vintage warplane Accident in Queen Anne's occurs just after takeoff

August 03, 1998|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

Two men were killed yesterday evening when a vintage, single-engine airplane crashed in a woods on Kent Island and burst into flames about four miles south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, said state police at Centreville.

Identities of the victims, both pilots from St. Mary's County, were not released last night.

Police said witnesses reported seeing the World War II trainer, known as a "War Bird," take off about 7: 15 p.m. from the Kentmorr airstrip, stall and crash.

"It was an old plane and was making a lot of noise when it took off," said Alina Jens, 23, a waitress at the Kentmorr Restaurant, a few hundred yards from the privately owned airfield south of the bridge's eastern end.

She said the plane took off westbound from the airstrip, and was climbing and turning south when suddenly no sound came from the engine. Seconds later, Jens said, there was a thumping sound and smoke could be seen rising from beyond trees about three miles from the restaurant.

Jens said the victims had landed about 5 p.m., had crab cakes for dinner and left about 7 p.m.

"They told Lisa, one of our waitresses, to watch them fly over the marina," said Jens.

Police said the plane crashed off Route 8, the main road that crosses U.S. 50 near the bridge, and within 50 yards of several homes in Queen Anne Colony, a 300-home community near Normans.

Fire apparatus from volunteer fire companies at Queenstown, Kent Island and Grasonville responded to the scene and extinguished flames that briefly threatened the homes, said a Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

Most of the fuselage was burned to the metal frame, with only parts of the wings undamaged, police said. The blue and yellow plane, with American aviation stars on the wings, was upright. The bodies reportedly were inside the wreckage.

The plane's destination was not immediately available, police said.

The cause of the crash was being investigated by state and federal aviation authorities.

Jens said many diners on the balcony watched the plane fly over the restaurant.

She said the restaurant became very quiet after the crash, and many diners paid their bills and left.

Jens said one of the men proudly displayed photos of the plane he carried in his wallet before they left the restaurant.

"They were very nice men and ate dinner here many times, but didn't know much about them," Jens said.

Pub Date: 8/03/98

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