Hard landing at airport

MARTINSBURG – A pilot and his passenger were hurt Saturday when the pilot lost control of his experimental aircraft, which turned upside down upon landing at the Altoona-Blair County Airport.

The pilot, believed to be aircraft owner Charles J. Hagerty of Goode, Va., and his passenger were transported by ambulance to Nason Hospital, Roaring Spring, for treatment of minor injuries.

The Martinsburg Volunteer Fire Department and DeGol Aviation personnel assisted in the efforts to contain the aircraft’s fuel and used ropes to pull the single-engine aircraft upright, then onto its wheels.

“We think the plane was landing when its front landing gear doubled back,” Martinsburg Volunteer Fire Chief Randy Acker said Saturday. “It went off the macadam and dug into the grass.”

The crash occurred shortly after 1 p.m., and its cause will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Airport personnel said they believed the couple were expected to land at the airport and that people had been waiting for them.

After the pilot and his passenger got out of the aircraft, Acker said firefighters set up a foam blanket around the wreckage to contain the vapors of leaking fuel.

“We had the airport close the north/south runway for a while,” Acker said, “But planes could still land on the east/west runway.”

Altoona-Blair County Airport Authority Chairman Lanny Ross, who was at the airport Saturday, said he heard “quite a few” approaching planes while the firefighters were working. As soon as the crashed aircraft was towed from the runway to the DeGol Aviation hangar, two planes landed.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.