Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stinson 108-2, N9366K: Accident occurred May 16, 2017 near Eagles Nest Airport (31E), West Creek, Eagleswood Township, Ocean County, New Jersey

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA182 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 16, 2017 in West Creek, NJ
Aircraft: STINSON 108, registration: N9366K
Injuries: 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 16, 2017, about 2030 eastern standard time, a Stinson 108-2, N9366K, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near West Creek, New Jersey. The private pilot received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was privately registered to and operated. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The flight originated from Eagles Nest Airport (31E), West Creek, New Jersey, around 2020, and was destined for Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), Frederick, Maryland.

According to the pilot, he departed earlier that morning from FDK, flew to Sanford, Maine, and was returning to FDK, with several scheduled fuel stops. Throughout the day, he landed at seven airports, and reported no anomalies with the airplane. Before he departed 31E for the final leg of the flight back to FDK, he topped the airplane off with 26 gallons of fuel. After departure, the pilot flew toward the coast of New Jersey, and about 2,000 ft mean sea level, the engine began to "shake." He immediately turned the airplane back toward 31E, and soon after the engine lost all power. Smoke filled the cockpit and the pilot noticed an "orange glow" under the floor boards near the firewall. The pilot initiated an emergency descent, turned the fuel selector to the off position, and noted that the "orange glow" stopped. The pilot attempted to return to 31E, however, the airplane struck trees and terrain about 1 mile from to the approach end of the runway.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector revealed that it came to rest in a near vertical attitude. Both wings exhibited leading edge crush damage and the empennage was bent toward the right. The engine remained attached to the airframe. Examination of the engine revealed a breach in the top section of the crankcase.

The engine was retained for further examination.

Letter: Unfortunate Accident 

To the Editor: 

On May 16 at about 8:30 p.m. a transient aircraft departed Eagles Nest Airport. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot turned back to Eagles Nest and prepared to make an emergency landing. With insufficient altitude, his glide required an off-airport landing and he landed on Laurel Lane. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

I want to commend the immediate and professional response of the Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Co., Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak and the State Police. I also want to acknowledge the community response and the assistance of the residents living on Laurel Lane and the surrounding streets.

John Pallante, James Girgenti Sr. and Nick Caricato, pilots who maintain aircraft at Eagles Nest, responded on my behalf in accordance with our emergency response plan. Their professional assistance on the scene was most helpful and appreciated by the State Police and me. I was in telephone contact throughout the evening with my team, the mayor and the State Police.

This was an unfortunate accident. I continue to monitor and improve safety and enforce rules and regulations at Eagles Nest and will work with the community and town leadership to maintain safety.

Peter Weidhorn, manager

Eagles Nest Airport

Eagleswood, New Jersey 

Original article can be found here:

EAGLESWOOD - Michele Paccione, who has long criticized the expansion of Eagles Nest Airport as a threat to the safety of her neighborhood, was in her house at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when one of its outbound flights crashed through the forested landscape of her West Creek home. 

“I immediately knew it was a plane crash,” Paccione said, whose home is less than a mile from the privately owned airstrip.

“I didn’t hear the plane because (the pilot) had turned off the engine so it was silent, but he started hitting my trees back there and then crossed my driveway and the trees there," Paccione said. "Then I heard – boom!”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, that last sound was a 1947 Stinson 108-2 single-engine plane slamming into the earth in a garden that divides her property with that of her neighbors – Jeff and Caroline Marcucci, 42 and 44 respectively.

Jim Peters, an FAA spokesman, said Wednesday that the crash was under investigation. The pilot's identity has not been released. 

Caroline Marcucci, a flight attendant for United Airlines, had gone to bed early in order to be well-rested for an early morning commute to Newark Liberty International Airport for a flight she was scheduled to work the next day. Her husband, Jeff, was still at work.

Marcucci was awakened to a sound she at first thought was a car crash. Near the end of a long, rural cul-de-sac called Laurel Hill Lane, it was not uncommon for motorists to drive too fast. Eventually, someone was going to run out of road before it was too late to stop, she had long feared.

“I looked out the window and I just saw something red, I thought it was a car,” Marcucci said.

When the figure of a man walked up her driveway and rang her doorbell, she opted not to answer the door, unsure of what kind of character lurked on the other side. It turned out to be the pilot, dazed and nursing his wrist, but otherwise unharmed, she said.

She opened her front door when she noticed that all of her neighbors had emerged from their homes to see the spectacle that had fallen out of the sky – the fire-engine red vintage single-engine prop plane had landed in a vertical position, wedged within a glen of trees, its fuselage crumpled on impact.

On Wednesday, the neighbors stood around the wreckage of the aircraft, watching investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration inspect the crash scene. The residents lamented that they had long feared this day but were grateful that no one was killed or that the plane had not struck one of their homes, just feet away.

“On the weekend, if you come here, it’s like a war zone,” complained Jeff Marcucci. “There are sky diving planes constantly in the sky over our heads, they do 10 flights a day (on the weekends) and they run from eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock at night.”

It didn’t used to be this way. Eagles Nest Airport was once an unpaved air strip in the woods with a little box attached to a tree where pilots – employing an honor system – would deposit any landing fees.

However, since the Marcuccis built their dream home here in 2003, the runway has not only been paved, but the airport has undergone major upgrades – not only has a skydiving business opened shop there, but aspiring pilots can also get flying lessons at Eagles Nest today. There's even self-serving aircraft fuel on the premises.

A navigational beacon and other state-of-the-art equipment has been installed at the complex for night flying, which was once forbidden, said Jeff Marcucci.

He contends a neighborhood like theirs would never have been allowed to be constructed on land that is essentially just at the end of the runway at Eagles Nest. Moreover, he and his wife would never have built their house here. He said the accident on Tuesday night underscores the danger the couple have feared for a number of years.

“We built and we didn’t see any aircraft until the house was almost done and then a small plane came in and I asked the builder, ‘What was that?’” Jeff Marcucci said. “She said, ‘Oh, there’s just a small, little grass runway back there.’ So I said, ‘Well, how many planes? What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal, you’ll see one or two planes maybe in a year.’”

Today, Paccione, 57, said there are anywhere from 60 to 70 flights departing and arriving daily from Eagles Nest. When she purchased her property six years ago, she said she had been assured that would never happen.

She now manages the Facebook page “Clean safe quiet skies over West Creek,” in which she has sought to put a public spotlight on the issue. 

“The pilot for the skydivers told me that because their plane is so heavy with all the equipment and everything, they were having trouble reaching 250 feet in altitude over my roof, which means they were less than 200 feet from the roof of my house when they landed and took off,” Paccione said. “So it’s incredibly close.”

Peter Weidhorn of Manalapan, owner Eagles Nest, said construction of the Laurel Hill Lane neighborhood predated his ownership of the airport. While he declined to comment on whether the development should have been constructed there, he asserted that "there is a whole history to dig into with the town and the New Jersey Department of Transportation."  

Weidhorn said he had been informed the pilot was in good physical condition and that the wreckage of the plane would be removed from the neighborhood on Thursday.

He said he was told that the pilot had stopped at Eagles Nest to refuel, had departed the airport and was over Barnegat Bay when his engine compartment began to flame.

"He elected to turn around and come back, he may have shut off his fuel supply and electrical system — which is protocol — and he was in a glide when he realized he could not make the runway," Weidhorn said.

The owner said there are 45 to 50 aircraft based at Eagles Nest. During the summer, the airport serves as a staging area for banner-towing planes, sight-seeing trips from the air and a company that provides thrill-seekers with tandem skydiving.

The length and the weight capacity of the runway are fixed and the facility will never be able to accommodate larger aircraft. There are no plans for further expansion beyond the addition of future safety equipment, Weidhorn said. 

Story and video:

A Stinson 108 plane crashed in a resident’s yard near Eagles Nest Airport in Eagleswood Township shortly before 9 on Tuesday night. The pilot, Kenneth Miess Schertz of Texas, was the sole occupant and is believed to be uninjured, as is everyone on the ground. The plane, built in 1947, came to rest nose-first in the ground beside the home of Jeff and Caroline Marcucci on Laurel Hill Lane.

Airport owner Peter Weidhorn had been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak and the impacted property owner within minutes of the incident. He lives two hours away from the airport, so he had three pilot friends on their way to the scene to collect information. All parties involved will convene at the site Wednesday to debrief.

Caroline Marcucci was understandably shaken by the experience.

“This is the thing we were most afraid of happening, and it happened,” she said.

The Marcuccis’ home is located behind Atlantic City Electric, in the direct flight path of planes that come and go from the airstrip. They have attended town meetings and vocalized their distress over the airport activity – specifically night takeoffs and landings. She imagines what might have occurred if at the time of the crash she had been out walking her dogs, as she often does at night.

Someone heard the pilot say he thought he saw lights, Marcucci said. “Yeah, he saw lights, but they were the lights of our homes.”

Marcucci, whose husband, Jeff, is currently away in New York but plans to come home tomorrow, explained she had gone to bed earlier than usual because she was due to leave for work at 1:30 a.m. She was awakened by a loud bang followed by a crackling noise and then immediately noticed the smell of fuel. Neighbors knocked on her door to alert her to the crash, and she emerged from her house to find the plane in her yard, in a lightly wooded area between her driveway and her adjacent neighbor’s, and the pilot “stumbling out,” apparently not hurt.

The Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Co. and the State Police responded very quickly, she said. The firefighters doused the areas affected by the fuel leak.

She described the scene as “beyond chaotic” and counted at least 10 emergency vehicles parked on the street, which was already closed to traffic by about 9:15 as first responders hung yellow safety tape on her mailbox.

In the midst of the commotion, eyewitness accounts from neighbors who had gathered at the scene described the pilot as disoriented, sitting on the ground. He is believed to have been taking off when he suddenly thought his plane had caught fire, so he cut the engine.

Story, video and photo gallery:


Jim B said...

If the homeowners are so upset with the airport then make them an offer for the airport land and gain control of it. Put your money where your mouth is.

Your realtor lied to you about the "couple of planes a year" story. Your choice of a dream home near an airport was your mistake and not anyone else's.

Stop Eagles Nest said...

You win moron of the year.

Jim B said...

Thank you, it's not the first time or the last for that matter. Compliments appreciated.

I live near a busy airport that includes military turbojet traffic. At least I was moronic enough to avoid purchasing a home right under the departure path.

What's the matter? you don't have the money to buy-out the airport? Oh such poor people. If you would use the brain that you were provided free of charge you might realize the airport could be purchased for a fair price and broken up into hundreds of parcels with a considerable profit margin.

Time to get your neighbors together and collectively pool your money for a purchase. Find the most expensive team of lawyers you can hire.

Best to you.

Stop Eagles Nest said...

Hey Moron of the Year, the airport is privately owned and not for sale. And once an airport accepts funding from the FAA it must remain an airport for decades. So no, the residents cannot chip in to buy the airport, and even if they did it would have to stay an airport. It's can't be chopped up and sold at a profit. The town has wanted to get rid of this airport for a long time, but they cannot. Developers have offered to buy the land and do exactly what you propose, but the FAA keeps them from doing so.

Most plane crashes actually no NOT occur right in the flight path, but they DO usually occur within a couple of miles of airports. So if you're stupid enough to live near a busy airport that includes military turbojet traffic, there's always the possibility a plane will crash into you.

It is nice to hear other people realize you're a moron, though.

Anonymous said...

Boy....this Paccione woman is a piece of work! She is crazy for buying land in the flight path of final approach.

After the accident a friend of hers on social media asked if the pilot made it. Her exact response was "Yes, unfortunately....As%hole! Flying from Texas and crashes into my yard in his stupid contraption". You can see where this is going, right? Her friend also said that he hopes the pilot has great insurance coverage. Her response..."He'd better, because my plan is to bankrupt him". As you can tell, she doesn't like pilots or airplanes too much.

I have lived on and been around private airstrips for many years and always find it so crazy that people would complain so much about cool airplanes flying around.

Seems that there is always a group of jerks that want to cause trouble when it comes to small airports.

Anonymous said...

Lets consider everything you have said is true though I cannot say I totally agree with everthing.

The "Stop Eagles Nest" effort puzzles me when you assert it cannot be stopped. So what is the point of all the fuss?

You do "Stop Eagles Nest" because you do believe it can be stopped.

As an alternative you could take an interest in avation yourself and perhaps profit. We have a couple of airports locally that are privately owned and have well patroned resturants that do quite well and not just only from airport visitors. Like the resturant business? You could buy a parcel near the FBO and make a go of it.

You could also buy into a aviation maintenance facilty. I have a good relationship with our mechanics and eventually that business may become a multi-partnership. They do quite well also.

You could open a rental car lot nearby. Those do ok as well.

But, if you are only interested in control of your neighbors and everything around you then I will politely suggest you have a false sense of security. You will spin your wheels and waste a lot of time.

I think I will fly over and visit sometime. I have an open mind.

Jim B


I feel sorry for this woman. She was lied to by the realtor. and yes im a retired pilot and CFI Aerobatic. and i wont, repeat, I WONT buy or rent, or camp near the ends of any airport..

I know too many clods that cant even change a tire of his car, or drive a stick shift car or do emergency maneuvers in his plane. Too many clods with pilot licenses.. Too many accidents. Most near the airport. Most are shameful PILOT ERRORS. Outrageous, but the factual truth..

knowing that.. again, I feel sorry for this woman..

Anonymous said...


You are retired now, I hope to God that you spending your enormous amount of free time volunteering your aviation expertise at the local flight schools. In addition, coddling the homeless, apartment/condominium renters, homeowners, campers, within flight paths.

In the United States of America, we are all friends in aviation and we watch out for one another.

America is BLESSED to have the very best Certified Flight Instructors in the entire world, military pilots, commercial airline pilots, Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Stop Eagles Nest said...

Thank you for your honesty, CFITOMAHAWK2. For years we residents have warned the FAA, the airport owner, the various town mayors and the land use board that this airport is a disaster waiting to happen. The airport is incredibly poorly situated. The runway ends right at the six-lane Garden State Parkway at one end and in forest, high power lines and residential neighborhoods at the other. It's surrounded by dense forest on all sides. If a pilot is having trouble making it back to the runway, there is simply no decent alternate place to try to land other than an incredibly busy six-lane highway. In two years we've had one pilot land a plane on a highway two towns away, two people airlifted to the trauma unit in a skydiving accident, and now a plane crashing on someone's front lawn. It's sheer luck nobody has been killed in any of these three accidents.

Anonymous said...

Just about everyone in the general vicinity of this airport, West Creek and Manhawkin knows this lady is not mentally well and isn't taken very seriously.

A reasonable person knows that SHE made the choice to live on the approach end of an airport. Yes, the airport has increased in business and traffic over the years, because of the steady safety improvement's and investment by the owner. Is that against the law? The airport has been around decades longer than her house, so why not just move if it's so horrible?

Wishing a pilot's ( or anyone's) death says it all about this women.
I hope she's gearing up for a busy summer with lot's of traffic. Enjoy!

P.S. Because you wished the pilot harm, both mortal and financial, I will be doing my very best to encourage all my pilot friends to visit Eagles Nest this summer to get fuel and visit. Please make sure to wave high :)

Anonymous said...

Fear of retaliation. Who knows what these "Stop-Eagles-Nest" idiots could be up to.

Anonymous said...

Michele Paccione = Heartless Bitch. Anti-aviation, anti-guns, anti-men. In love with Hillary. Four Americans Died and Hillary Lied. Bitch!

Anonymous said...

Eagles Nest Gaggle Flights 2017

Anonymous said...

Tri-State Fly-in

Anonymous said...

Excited about the possibility of getting to fly tomorrow and I am ready for some mmmm good fly-in pancake breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article. Everyone should pursue the passion they feel towards a certain kind of work.