- FUN FEATURES
Two men, who were flying from New Bedford, Mass to the Waterbury/Oxford airport in a small, single-engine plane, were forced to make a crash landing near Boulder Road last Thursday.
The plane was being piloted by a 25-year-old male who was accompanied by his father. Their names have not been released.
Neither of the two passengers were injured in the accident.
According to Cheshire Police Department spokesman Lt. James Fasano, the plane began to experience engine problems during the course of the two men's journey, making clear that they would not be able to reach their destination. As it was still daylight, the pilot of the plane was able to see the open field and also any power lines that might have impeded his path.
The plane landed on the field with the nose of the plane burrowing into the snow. The force of the impact caused the plane to flip over, however, Fasano stated that the two passengers described the entire event as “gentle.”
“When I spoke with them, they didn't have a scratch on them,” said Fasano.
The two men were able to exit the plane without a problem, despite it laying upside down, and walk to Gilbert Lassen, Jr.'s home to get help.
“I think the snow really helped,” said Fasano.
Cheshire, like much of New England, was blanketed with almost two feet of snow on Jan. 11 and 12, offering a very soft landing for the plane. Had the area been devoid of snow, Fasano explained that the plane most likely would have skidded along the hard surface for an extended time and probably would have landed it in the middle of the road, increasing the likelihood of serious injury.
Neither man needed medical attention and Fasano confirmed that both were Connecticut natives.
Fasano described the pilot as being “experienced” and “knew what he was doing,” commending him on being able to avoid any power lines while on his approach.
The accident occurred around 5:30 p.m. and crews worked until approximately midnight to remove the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was immediately called in to head up an investigation and to oversee the removal of the plane.
Fasano stated that a path was dug through the snow to make way for a crane that lifted the plane onto a flatbed. The wings of the plane had to be removed. There was no word as to where the plane was taken after it was extracted from Lassen's yard.
Ironically, 65 years ago this week, a far more serious plane accident occurred in Cheshire.
On Jan. 18, 1946, an Eastern Airlines plane caught fire while flying over the town and crashed in a wooded area near Wolf Hill Road and Copper Valley Court. The crash resulted in the deaths of 17 people – 14 passengers and three crewmen.
According to media accounts at the time, a trail of smoke could be seen as the plane traveled over Cheshire. Then, there was an explosion that, according to one eyewitness interviewed at the time, C.A. Goodard, caused the plane's wings to fold as it came straight down.
Flames rose a reported 30 feet in the air when the plane finally did crash and the bodies of the victims were not able to be recovered for more than 90 minutes, until the fire could be extinguished. Members of the Cheshire Fire Department responded to the scene and, according to the department's own historical account, the only hydrant available in the area was some distance away from the crash site, meaning the two fire engines that responded to the scene had to make numerous trips back to the hydrant to refill their water tanks. The resulting delays, and the extreme heat generated by the flames, resulted in the near-complete disintegration of the plane, the historical account claims.
In 2006, The Cheshire Herald ran a story about the crash in honor of its 60th anniversary. In that story, William Willets, a Cheshire resident who had been a 21-year old member of the fire department at the time of the crash, described what he saw on the day of the accident: “All that was left was the shell of the plane. Everything else had burned up or was disintegrated upon impact,” Willets recalled. Then, when asked about some of the more graphics scenes witnessed that day, Willets recounted, “I only saw one body, but that was enough. The person no longer had any arms, the head was just a lump, and the legs were burned away.”