Small Plane Crashes Near Eagles Nest Airport

May 16, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

A Stinson 108 single-engine propeller plane crashed in a resident’s yard near Eagles Nest Airport in Eagleswood Township shortly before 9 on Tuesday night. The pilot, Kenneth Miess Schertz of Texas, was the sole occupant and is believed to be uninjured, as is everyone on the ground. The plane, built in 1947, came to rest nose-first in the ground beside the home of Jeff and Caroline Marcucci on Laurel Hill Lane.

Airport owner Peter Weidhorn had been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak and the impacted property owner within minutes of the incident. He lives two hours away from the airport, so he had three pilot friends on their way to the scene to collect information. All parties involved will convene at the site Wednesday to debrief.

Caroline Marcucci was understandably shaken by the experience.

“This is the thing we were most afraid of happening, and it happened,” she said.

The Marcuccis’ home is located behind Atlantic City Electric, in the direct flight path of planes that come and go from the airstrip. They have attended town meetings and vocalized their distress over the airport activity – specifically night takeoffs and landings. She imagines what might have occurred if at the time of the crash she had been out walking her dogs, as she often does at night.

Someone heard the pilot say he thought he saw lights, Marcucci said. “Yeah, he saw lights, but they were the lights of our homes.”

Marcucci, whose husband, Jeff, is currently away in New York but plans to come home tomorrow, explained she had gone to bed earlier than usual because she was due to leave for work at 1:30 a.m. She was awakened by a loud bang followed by a crackling noise and then immediately noticed the smell of fuel. Neighbors knocked on her door to alert her to the crash, and she emerged from her house to find the plane in her yard, in a lightly wooded area between her driveway and her adjacent neighbor’s, and the pilot “stumbling out,” apparently not hurt.

The Eagleswood Volunteer Fire Co. and the State Police responded very quickly, she said. The firefighters doused the areas affected by the fuel leak.

She described the scene as “beyond chaotic” and counted at least 10 emergency vehicles parked on the street, which was already closed to traffic by about 9:15 as first responders hung yellow safety tape on her mailbox.

In the midst of the commotion, eyewitness accounts from neighbors who had gathered at the scene described the pilot as disoriented, sitting on the ground. He is believed to have been taking off when he suddenly thought his plane had caught fire, so he cut the engine.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

— Victoria Ford

Small Plane Crashes Near Eagles Nest Airport
(Video by: Caroline Marcucci)
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