Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Cessna 172N Skyhawk 100 , N5254J: Incident occurred April 25, 2022 near Gardner Municipal Airport (KGDM), Worcester County, Massachusetts

Worcester NAA Flying Club


TEMPLETON, Massachusetts  (CBS) – A plane may have been shot while landing at Gardner Municipal Airport in Templeton Monday afternoon. A student pilot and the instructor on the Cessna 172M heard the plane get hit.

Dominic Scalera of the Worcester Flying Club owns a share of the single engine Cessna. He showed WBZ-TV a bullet hole in the left wing, a shot that also pierced the plane’s fuel tank.

“It’s insane,” Scalera said. “It’s extremely scary and disturbing that someone would shoot at an airplane randomly in the sky.”

It was just after noon when a student pilot with the Worcester Flying Club was practicing his takeoffs and landings with an instructor onboard.

“They heard a loud pop, and while they were trying to figure out what the pop was, he told me they could eventually smell fuel,” said Chris Kosak of the Worcester Flying Club.

They landed quickly and then took video of fuel dripping from the plane. But it wasn’t until they spotted the hole and mechanics removed and inspected the fuel tank that they found a .22 caliber bullet and realized someone had shot the aircraft on landing approach.

State Police swarmed the airfield, securing the plane and retrieving the bullet before scouring the woods surrounding the airport, including a nearby sandlot where teens are known to target shoot.

State Police say troopers could not definitively say the tank rupture was from a gunshot.

The student pilot told WBZ he’d rather not talk about the incident.

“I’m sure he’s looking to get back up in the air again, we just have to get his plane fixed,” Kosak said.

That student pilot is very close to earning his solo wings, but he’ll certainly remember this flight.

On Tuesday, the FAA and State Police suspended their involvement in the investigation. Templeton Police are now leading the investigation.


GARDNER, Massachusetts — The Federal Aviation Administration said Massachusetts officials are investigating a report that a small plane was struck by a gunshot while landing on Monday.

State police said the plane, identified by the FAA as a single-engine Cessna 172, was approaching the Gardner Municipal Airport around midday Monday.

The pilot told state police the plane was damaged while landing at the airport. The plane’s fuel tank was ruptured and was leaking fuel.

The FAA said the pilot of a single-engine Cessna 172 reported a bullet hole in the gas tank.

The co-owner of the plane, Dominic Scalera, told WCVB he found one bullet in the fuel tank. He said the bullet appeared to go through the wing of the plane, into the fuel tank.

Scalera said a student pilot and instructor were approximately 500 feet in the air when the pilot heard a noise.

The maintenance crew said a bullet went through three pieces of metal and punctured the gas tank.

Troopers at the scene said they could not definitively confirm that the damage was caused by a gunshot without additional resources.

It's unclear whether someone with a gun just happened to hit the plane or if someone was aiming at it.

"Whoever did this is an idiot," Scalera said. "It's pretty simple. You do not, if you know gun safety at all, you do not shoot at an animal unless you have a license and are going to eat it and you do not randomly shoot a gun you shoot at a target. That is the safe way to handle a gun and this is not safe."

The Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services and Ballistics team was assisting Templeton Police in the investigation, police said.


  1. Troopers couldn't say it was a gunshot? After a .22 bullet was found in the tank? Yeah....maybe it was a bird strike.

    1. Taking the broader view, the trooper's report filing tasks might not include obligatory submittals to BATF and DHS if you don't say it's a gunshot incident. Also keeps "people living in the area shoot at aircraft" out of ratings for the city.

  2. So let me get this straight: a .22 caliber bullet was found in the fuel tank that was leaking, the crew on board heard the impact, and they landed and law enforcement was called to investigate the shooting including "a nearby sandlot where teens are known to target shoot."

    Did I get all of that correct? If so, can someone 'splain to me why in the HELL this investigation got dropped faster than a knife left on a hot stove? Nobody target shoots with a gun pointed UP. Local authorities know more than they are admitting to. If that bullet had hit either pilot on board, I'll bet we'd have a HELL of a lot more investigation going on as I type this. They are sure quick to pinpoint a laser pointer strike though. There's more to the story here.