Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A small plane crash at Royalton Airport on Saturday morning led to the 79-year-old pilot from Erie County being transported to the Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight.
The pilot, the only person on board the plane, suffered facial injuries, said Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour. The pilot was conscious and was able to speak to investigators from the Sheriff’s Office before being taken to ECMC.
According to Voutour, the people manning the control tower at the airport saw the plane veer sharply to the right just after taking off. The plane turned on its side and crashed into the trees approximately 150 yards away from the runway.
It took first responders 15 to 20 minutes to get to the plane due to the thickness of the brush, Voutour said. The pilot had to be cut out of the aircraft and taken by stretcher back to the runway for Mercy Flight, which took about an hour. A backhoe was used to clear a path to the plane.
“It’s very deep in the woods,” he said. “Very thick woods.”
The plane, a two-seat light-sport aircraft, sustained “substantial” damage, Voutour said.
“One of the wings is broken off,” he said. “Probably luckily, it came in through very, very thick trees, which cushioned the landing.”
Along with the Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police, the Gasport Volunteer Fire Co. and Tri-Community Ambulance assisted in the operation. Fire officials from across the county also responded to the scene, Voutour said.
The Federal Aviation Authority out of Rochester will be on the scene on Monday morning to determine the cause of the crash. Until then, the crash scene is under “secured watch,” Voutour said. The National Transportation Safety Board is also involved in the investigation.
“The concern we have is that there’s a parachute in the plane that’s catapulted under an explosive type measure and that has not gone off,” he said.
Several different measure will be used to secure the site, from video surveillance to patrols, Voutour said.
“It’s off limits,” he said.