Plane lost power on takeoff at Great Barrington, forcing pilot to land in field | Crime







Airplane in Great Barrington Field

The plane is in a field just west of the runway at Walter J. Koladza Airport in Great Barrington on Saturday. A flight instructor and his student landed the plane after the engine failed during takeoff.




GREAT BARRINGTON — A flight instructor and student made an emergency landing in a field over the weekend after their plane’s engine lost some power on takeoff at Walter J. Koladza Airport .

Neither were injured and the plane suffered no damage, Great Barrington Police Chief Paul Storti said.

“It was not a plane crash,” he added. “He landed.”

Storti said the engine problem happened sometime before 5 p.m. Saturday.

The airport notified the Federal Aviation Administration, which investigated the incident Monday morning, airport owner Richard Solan said. The agency confirmed partial power loss and noted no damage. There were no fuel leaks on the airport’s 1978 Piper Warrior, and the plane’s engine had about 1,200 hours before a recommended 2,000-hour overhaul, he said.

Solan said he was instructing a student when the current died down, and he decided to land as a precaution in a stretch of private fields just west of the runway which is considered an ‘overshoot’ in such cases. . The airport prunes trees and cuts tall grass at either end of the runway to maintain clearance in the event of such an event, Solan noted. Fields are behind some of the houses along Route 71 to the west.

“It was a split-second decision, and there was heat [outside] and the safest maneuver was to land it,” he said.

Solan, a longtime retired American Airlines pilot, explained that every pilot and student prepares for it with every flight. This is part of a checklist and maneuvers instilled in students.

“Every takeoff you plan for engine failure, and that way it won’t surprise you,” Solan said. “We know exactly what we are going to do. It’s in our briefing. Every takeoff you have to prepare for engine failure and every landing you have to prepare for a go-around. Our training is for that and it just shows that the training worked.

Although rare, such incidents worry some of those who live in this area around the airport. It is a mix of houses, fields and farmland.

A group of neighbors and some neighbors at the airport, which officially opened nearly 80 years ago, have complained about noise and worried about safety. A pending appeal in the Land Court challenges the legality of the airport. The airport does not have a municipal permit as it predates zoning laws.


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Airfield supporters have taken to social media to denounce what they say was an attack by those who settled in the area long after the airport was established, and say they are trying to destroy this community resource, this historic airfield and this flight school.

Storti said the last incident he remembers responding to at the airport was when a plane rolled onto the western end of the runway in 2018 as it was positioning itself for takeoff. There were no injuries, but the aircraft sustained some damage.

In 2011, a pilot and his passenger suffered minor injuries when an engine-out aircraft on takeoff crashed into the field just west of the runway.

The year before, a pilot and his passenger were hospitalized after a plane crashed in fog into the cornfield just off the eastern end of the runway.


Great Barrington plane crash leaves 2 injured