Plane crashes near Tipton Airport

Cause under investigation

pilot hospitalized at Shock Trauma

May 05, 2007|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,sun reporter

A single-engine airplane crashed while trying to land at Fort Meade's Tipton Airport in Anne Arundel County yesterday, seriously injuring the pilot, authorities said.

The two-seater plane came down on Old Portland Road near Route 198 in Laurel about 4:15 p.m. and skidded into a wooded area a half-mile from the runway, authorities said.

The pilot, Robert R. James Jr., 60, of Emmaus, Pa., was trapped inside the cockpit when firefighters arrived. It took about 15 minutes to free him, said Sgt. Arthur Betts of the Maryland State Police.

James was flown by a Maryland State Police helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Betts said. A hospital spokeswoman said he was in serious but stable condition.

A Shih Tzu dog in the plane was unharmed, said Lt. Shawn Jones, a county Fire Department spokesman. There were no other passengers.

Authorities were trying to determine the cause of the crash, which was being investigated by the state police, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot had taken off from an airfield in Pennsylvania and was planning to land at Tipton, Jones said.

The aircraft, a Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk, struck the road, leaving gouge marks in the pavement, then skidded into a grove of trees about 50 yards from Route 198, Betts said.

The plane was intact but severely damaged, with its nose dug into the ground.

James is certified as a commercial pilot and flight instructor for single-engine airplanes, and as a ground instructor, FAA records show.

The agency lists the plane's owner as James Robert. An FAA spokesman could not confirm whether the injured pilot and the registered owner are the same person.

Yesterday's crash came 6 1/2 months after a single-engine airplane registered in suburban Chicago crashed on the grounds of Tipton shortly after takeoff, killing both people aboard. A preliminary investigation revealed that the pilot had failed to get clearance before heading into restricted airspace.

A man also was injured Sunday when his small plane crashed on the runway at Tipton as the pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings.

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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