FALLS CREEK – A pilot was injured when a small plane crashed at the DuBois-Jefferson County Airport Monday afternoon.
Paul Sekula, chairman of the DuBois-Jefferson County Airport Authority, said the aircraft was a small one, a four-seat Piper Cherokee that was carrying two people – the pilot and one passenger.
“At some point during the landing process, the plane caught fire and ran off the runway,” Sekula said.
Immediately after the 5:15 p.m. incident, DuBois-Jefferson County Airport fire responders were on the site. Sekula said the pilot was burned on his arms and elsewhere. He was flown to Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh. The passenger on the plane, also a man, was apparently not injured in the accident.
Sekula was not able to say who was on the plane or from where the flight originated.
“The FAA will have a formal statement after their investigation.”
FAA officials are expected to arrive at the airport from Pittsburgh at about 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. Monday.
Until the FAA can complete their investigation, the DuBois-Jefferson County Airport is closed, with no flights coming in or going out. Sekula said the FAA will make a decision as to when the airport can re-open.
“(The FAA) will examine the crash site and then make a decision.”
For now, any flights that were supposed to land at the DuBois-Jefferson County Airport are being redirected, with airlines making alternate arrangements for the affected passengers.
Sekula said Bob Shaffer, DuBois-Jefferson County Airport manager, was away from the airport at the time of the accident. “In his absence, everything worked exactly as it is supposed to,” Sekula said, speaking of the emergency responders’ work after the incident.
Area fire and ambulance personnel were notified of the event, as per the airport’s emergency plan, although no assistance was needed.
It was about one year ago when a freight airplane crashed upon landing, but no one was hurt in that incident, according to Sekula. About two years ago, another airplane landed with its wheels up, he said.
As for Monday’s incident, he could only say, “The plane is badly damaged.”
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Paul Sekula, DuBois-Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority chairman, points to the site where the small airplane ran off the runway Monday afternoon. The Federal Aviation Administration will complete an investigation of the incident before releasing more details. (Photo by Dawn Walls)