MOOSIC, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Crews removed the wreckage of a small plane crash and Monday night, Eyewitness News was learning more about the pilot who was forced to make a landing in this Lackawanna County neighborhood.
The pilot made a mayday call minutes before crashing. Air traffic controllers answered the emergency call from the pilot who noticed engine failure miles from the runway. Air traffic control at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport received a call no personnel wants to hear.
“The pilot encountered some problems with his engine and when he found that problem, when he identified that problem, he alerted the air traffic control tower and the air traffic control tower were trying to vector him to come directly to this airport,” said Carl Beardsley, executive director of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport.
According to the FAA’s registry, the pilot is Donald Harper of Maryland. He and his passenger left from Burlington Vermont, their final destination unknown. Their engine started failing over Lackawanna County.
Beardsley says it reached a time when the pilot could not make it to the airport. Their final destination would be on Stone Street in Moosic, in the dark.
“I have to give the pilot a lot of credit because that wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do. It’s very narrow in this area and he did it just fine,” said Beardsley.
Once a mayday call comes to the tower, the response to the emergency is being addressed in real time.
“The pilot is not only going to declare an emergency but give you an idea of what it is about and also is going to be able to tell you how many people are on board and how much fuel is on the plane because all of those play a role,” said Beardsley.
The airport in Avoca has equipment and responders on site 24/7 but rely on nearby communities during major events.
“It’s always best to have more people and more involvement and more experts and we have that with some of the different mutual aid companies that are responding to an incident on airport or off airport,” said Beardsley.
The NTSB was on scene overnight handling the investigation. The plane was later removed from stone street. As for the pilot, Mr. Harper’s condition is listed as fair at Geisinger CMC in Scranton. As for the passenger, she was treated at the hospital but returned to the scene.
Click Here to see our team coverage as this story developed overnight.