2 aboard small plane die in Arundel crash

Accident is the third this year at Edgewater airport

December 10, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,Sun reporter

Two people were killed last night when their single-engine plane crashed at Lee Airport near Edgewater in Anne Arundel County - the third accident this year at the airport.

The victims - one man and one woman - were declared dead at the scene, said Battalion Chief Steve Thompson.

He declined to provide further information about the victims pending notification of next of kin.

Thompson said the Fire Department was called about 5:45 p.m. Several dozen emergency personnel were soon at the scene, using flashlights to comb through wreckage strewn over the western end of the runway. About 100 yards from the end of the runway, the airplane came to a stop on the side of a hill near Beards Creek. It appeared badly damaged, with its tail bent and both wings torn. Luggage and other debris were spread over the site.

Thompson said officials had not determined the cause of the accident.

A person answering the phone at Lee Airport's office, who declined to give his name, said the plane was landing to refuel and its occupants were believed to be staying overnight.

He said the aircraft apparently struck a tree on its approach.

A waitress at nearby Ledo's Pizza said she saw the plane approach for a landing as she was driving to work.

"I didn't notice anything abnormal," said Kara Eckel.

The area soon filled with rescue equipment, as fire and police officials arrived. "We all ran outside. There are so many firetrucks," Eckel said.

The Anne Arundel fire and police departments, as well as state police and investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, were at the scene.

Spokespeople for the NTSB and FAA did not respond to requests for comment. The Capital of Annapolis quoted an official from the FAA as saying the aircraft is registered to DDT Aero Inc. of College Station, Texas.

According to the flight plan, the plane was coming from Warren County Memorial Airport in McMinnville, Tenn., and was headed to Lee Airport at the time of the crash. The plane originated from Easterwood Airport in College Station, on the campus of Texas A&M University.

It is the third crash, and the second serious one, this year at the airport, which serves small private planes. The airport opened in 1929.

In July, a small plane crashed in a nearby soybean field, critically injuring the pilot as he attempted a landing and scattering parts of the plane in a residential neighborhood after the aircraft hit several trees.

The pilot and lone occupant, Ralph Dilks, 64, of Cape May, N.J., was pulled unconscious from the wreckage by several residents.

In October, a twin-engine plane slid into a fence while coming in for a landing, according to an account in The Capital. No one was injured.

In 1998, a Florida man died when his experimental two-seater plane crashed into Beards Creek while attempting to land at Lee.

The year before, two flying instructors practicing takeoffs were killed when their two-seater made it about 150 feet into the air before its engine sputtered and the plane nose-dived.

Two people were killed at another Anne Arundel County facility, Tipton Airport, in October when their single-engine plane crashed after being ordered to return to the airport shortly after takeoff. They apparently had not secured proper clearance to fly in the restricted airspace near the nation's capital.


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