Saturday, September 24, 2022

Taylorcraft C-12D-85, N5619M: Accident occurred September 24, 2022 near Clarence Aerodrome (D51), Buffalo, Erie County, New York

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rochester, New York

Aircraft crashed for unknown reasons in a wooded area. 

Time: 17:39:00Z
Regis#: N5619M
Aircraft Make: TAYLORCRAFT
Aircraft Model: BC12D
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: SERIOUS
Flight Crew:  1 Serious 
Pax: 0
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91


A small plane crashed in a heavily wooded area off of Transit Road in Swormville, just south of the Clarence Aerodrome Airport, leaving the pilot – the only person on board – injured, according to emergency responders and the manager of the airport.

The incident took place at about 12:50 p.m., according to a report to Amherst Central Fire Control by Swormville Fire Chief Scott Will. 

A Mercy Flight helicopter transported one injured person from the scene to Erie County Medical Center.

The manager of the airport identified the pilot as Lee Hardy, 70. Hardy was flying from Dundee, near Watkins Glen. His brother Jay, who lives in Western New York, rushed to the scene when he heard about the crash. As he tried to get through the rough terrain to the crash site, he got his truck stuck but made it in time to to see his brother before he was airlifted to the hospital, said Fred Stanton,

Hardy’s father Russ, who died in 2013, was a key figure in Clarence Flying Club and built five planes, Stanton said. The one that crashed today was the lone active plane of those five planes. Lee finished refurbishing the plane after his father’s death, Stanton said.

The Taylorcraft plane was about to land at the Clarence Aerodrome when he abruptly turned "90 degrees," Stanton said. Then "he turned south and barely made it over the trees. It appeared that he stalled the wing."

The plane crashed in a densely wooded area a few hundred yards south of the landing strip.

The plane's front was badly damaged and the tail could be seen sticking straight up. 

Stanton wasn't sure what caused the crash. "It's a mystery," he said.

One of the people who called 911 regarding the crash reported from the scene that "the pilot was trapped in the cockpit and had injuries but was alert and talking."

Crews extricated the pilot from the wreckage, Will said in the report. EMTs with Twin City Ambulance evaluated him at the scene.

Hardy suffered suspected broken bones and was put on a utility vehicle so that he could be transferred to the Mercy Flight helicopter, Stanton said.

Clarence Center and North Amherst responded to the scene with their off-road vehicles and other equipment to assist. 

The Erie County Sheriff's Office secured the crash scene and were awaiting investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.


  1. I know Lee from way back in the 80's and early 90's. We worked together and he was a bit of a mentor to me. Nice guy, and I hope he is OK. I have not spoken to him in many years and was surprised to see his name pop up in an accident report!

  2. Stall/spin base to final? Glad he survived

  3. Praying for you, Lee and Linda.