ROYALTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 79-year-old man from Erie County was injured, when the plane he was flying crashed just after taking off from Royalton Airport in Niagara County late Saturday morning.
Air traffic controllers watched the plane clear the treetops, then drop into the woods, about 11:30 a.m.
“A small aircraft – two-seater, I’ll call it a light sport aircraft – was taking off in an easterly direction. And according to the people in the tower, they were watching him and as soon as he got up into the air, he veered to the right very sharply, went on its side and into a field, and crashed,” Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour told reporters.
Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies, State Police and numerous fire departments responded to the airport, on Mackey Road in the Town of Royalton.
Sheriff Voutour said it was a challenge for them to extricate the pilot from the wreck, which is located about 150 yards south of the runway in a densely-wooded area.
“He had to be cut out of the aircraft and then taken onto a stretcher, and taken back to Mercy Flight. That operation probably took an hour, because it was extremely thick. We had to take backhoe through to clear a path,” Voutour said.
Mercy Flight took the victim to Erie County Medical Center. His name and condition have not been released. Voutour said he appeared to have suffered “facial injuries,” but was conscious and talking with his rescuers.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“We’ve contacted the FAA out of Rochester. They’ll be coming in Monday morning for a full investigation,” said Voutour.
Until then, the Sheriff’s Office is securing the crash site with extra patrols and video surveillance.
“The concern we have is, there’s a parachute in the plane that is obviously… Gets catapulted, under an explosive-type measure, and that has not gone off,” Voutour explained.
The Sheriff strongly discouraged curious passersby from trying to reach the wreckage of the plane.
“It’ll be all roped off, and taped off with crime tape. Anybody that passes through that, obviously, will be arrested.”