Saturday, January 21, 2017
WEST CALDWELL -- A pilot was injured when a small aircraft crashed in a residential neighborhood near the Essex County Airport Saturday afternoon, police said.
The plane crashed on Patton Drive, which is about a mile-and-a-half from the airport, according to an officer with the Fairfield Police Department. Authorities are currently at the scene.
Rick Breitenfeldt, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the plane is a Beechcraft Bonanza and had one person on board. He said the incident occurred at 12:45 p.m. about a mile south of the Essex County Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified and the FAA is investigating, Breitenfeldt said.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said the pilot, an adult male, suffered a broken leg and burns to his face and chest. The sheriff would not categorize the seriousness of the injuries.
The pilot was taken to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, Fontoura said.
An operator at the Essex County Airport said he did not see the crash but could see smoke and emergency response vehicles responding to the area.
Bob Alviggi, who was at home with his wife when the plane crashed, said he heard a loud "boom" and watched as people rushed to the aircraft to pull the pilot out.
"I heard a big boom and my wife hollered at me 'There's a fire. A plane crashed. There's a fire. '"
He said he called 911 and then ran out the back door but couldn't get to the crash site, which was at spot with a 20-foot drop from his house in Fairfield, just across the border from West Caldwell.
He said the flames were so intense that the heat warped his fence, which is about 5 feet from the crash site.
"I've been here for almost 40 years and nothing like this every happened," Alviggi said.
Video on social media shows smoke rising from behind a home in the neighborhood with an ambulance at the scene.
Posted by Kathryn on 2:24:00 PM