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Pilot from downed plane identified PDF Print E-mail
Written by By KIM SMITH DEDAM, Staff Writer   
Thursday, April 19, 2007

RAY BROOK — A Saranac Lake man was the pilot killed in a plane crash Wednesday at Adirondack Regional Airport.
Scott E. Thomas, 49, was the only occupant of the plane, police said. The 1968 Beechcraft Baron 55 twin-engine, fixed-wing plane went down in a wooded area north of the runway shortly after takeoff from runway 5.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday morning that the aircraft’s registration number was N-868ST.
The FAA has turned the investigation over to the National Transportation Safety Board.
“If it becomes an accident, we turn it over to the NTSB,” said spokesman Jim Peters.
That agency takes a lead role in an investigation depending on condition of the aircraft or if there is a serious injury or death, Peters said.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated. Police said an autopsy is scheduled today at Adirondack Medical Center to determine the cause of Thomas’s death.
The accident happened at about 1:10 p.m., according to Airport Manager Christopher Kreig, who saw the plane go down.
“I saw it happen and immediately called 911,” Kreig said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff in a wooded area on the airport property, resulting in one fatality.”
State Police Trooper Keith Brown also witnessed the crash. He had just arrived at the airport’s café for a lunch break.
“Shortly after being seated, I noticed the plane taking off,” Brown said Wednesday evening.
The trooper watched the small plane, a primarily white aircraft with red striping, as it departed the runway and headed north-northeast outside the café window.
“It was about 50 feet in the air. It appeared to begin to ascend at a very steep angle.”
At about 300 feet, it looked almost like it was going to stall, he said, almost like it was going to do a stunt.
“I thought, ‘This takeoff looks abnormal.’”
Then the plane started to barrel-roll left, Brown said.
“I could see the underbelly.”
The nose plummeted, and the plane went straight down, nearly perpendicular to the ground.
Brown said he watched in disbelief but told fellow troopers at the table what he had witnessed and contacted Troop B headquarters. The officers rushed to the accident site to offer assistance.
No smoke or fire was visible from the crash, Brown said.
The accident site appeared to be beyond the runway, which became a staging area for rescue and recovery operations.
About 10 firefighters responded in four Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department trucks, one being a four-wheeler used to reach the accident site.
The airport’s rescue vehicle, additional State Police and numerous Department of Environmental Conservation officials also responded.
Ray Brook-based State Police indicated that FAA officials were in charge of the investigation into the crash and had still not released the pilot’s name as of late Wednesday night.
Visibility was clear under a low ceiling of thick gray clouds with a light wind.
Airport traffic had been normal all morning, Kreig said, and the weather unchanged.
“What you see out here (at 4 p.m.) is what it’s been like all day.” Airport officials did not know whether an aircraft malfunction contributed to the crash.
Besides the FFA, the National Transportation Safety Board was alerted.
It is the first crash to occur at the regional airport in three years. In April 2004, Paul and Alice Grulich, teachers from Tupper Lake, were killed when their plane went down as they were attempting a landing.
A report by the National Transit Safety Board later concluded the pilot did not have enough technical knowledge to operate the small plane.
The Adirondack Regional Airport, owned and operated by the Town of Harrietstown, is equipped with state-of-the-art instrument-landing equipment, global-positioning equipment and the latest lighting and approach technology.
The primary runway is 6,573 feet long and 150 feet wide. A smaller runway, called a crosswind runway, is 3,998 feet long and 110 feet wide.
The facility accommodates general-aviation traffic and has daily commuter flights to Albany and Boston.
E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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