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Feds probe Pa. plane crash

May 12, 1999|By DON AINES

SCOTLAND, Pa. - The owner of a small plane that crashed just after take-off Tuesday evening said the aircraft had reached an altitude of about 150 feet when the engine died.

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Stephen K. Gilman, 52, of 15538 Dogwood Drive, Fort Loudon, Pa., said he didn't have much time to be scared as the plane began to fall from the sky.

"You just experience it," he said.

Gilman said he bought the 1964 Piper Colt a few months ago and planned to learn to fly.

The plane was being piloted by Robert Parmer, address unavailable, of Chambersburg, Pa., when they took off at about 8 p.m. from a small private airstrip north of Chambersburg Mall.

"We took off and just lost power. They really have no idea what the problem was," Gilman said of the Federal Aviation Administration investigators who are looking into the crash.

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Two inspectors on Wednesday examined the wreckage in a field near the airport.

The plane was still ascending when the engine cut out, Gilman said. "Once you lose power, you start to come down real quick because you haven't built up speed," he said.

"We hit some small saplings and touched down in a small field that was kind of sunken," said Gilman. The single-engine plane ran up an embankment, where one of the wings was torn off when it hit a tree.

The plane then flipped over into an adjacent field off Olde Scotland Road, he said.

Gilman said he suffered a bump on the head and Parmer was unhurt.

He said someone saw the crash and called 911, but both men were out of the plane before firefighters and police arrived.

"The engine has to be inspected to see if there's an issue there or not," said Dave Sakmar, an FAA aviation safety inspector from Harrisburg, Pa.

"The investigation is far from complete," said Sakmar, who was one of the inspectors to examine the wreckage.

Gilman was told the plane was repairable, but hasn't decided whether he will have it fixed.

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