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Yorktown Small Plane Crash Survival Called a 'Miracle'

Two injured, with minor injuries, as private plane makes forced landing because of mechanical problems.

Two people suffered minor injuries Friday afternoon when a small plane made a forced landing in Yorktown, NY, on its way to Norwood Memorial Airport, MA, according to local, county and federal officials.

The area of the crash scene is at the entrance of the IBM research facility at Pines Bridge Road, just north of the town border with New Castle. Officials said the plane, a BE36 Beechcraft, was en route from Teterboro (NJ) Airport when it developed mechanical problems and the pilot attempted to divert to Westchester County Airport. 

Officials said the two men in the plane were treated at the scene by medics and then taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. They were conscious and alert with non-life threatening injuries when emergency responders arrived at the scene. 

"This is a miracle," Lt. Robert Noble said of the crash and the way it ended. "I mean it really is. It's a miracle there wasn't a fatality."

The plane was reported to have crashed at 4:35 p.m. as it entered the field from the northeast. It belly landed on the grassy field, up on a small hill. 

"It's a tragedy that was averted here," Lt. Noble said. 

Police were still speaking with witnesses about the situation and officials were trying to get a handle on the pilot's injuries. 

"Thankfully he landed and did a hell of a job landing," Lt. Noble said. 

Sal Lagonia, of Yorktown, who is an aviation lawyer and a safety consultant, said it looks like the pilot was intentionally looking for an open field to land. He diverted to the Westchester County Airport, but had to land sooner.

"There's a billion things that could go wrong," Lagonia said. "It looked like he had to find a place to come down. That's what pilots typically do."

The plane is a 1996 private aviation craft that is registered to Mark Ehrenzeller of Hopkinton, MA. Officials have not yet confirmed the identities of the two men. It was not clear whether Ehrenzeller was the pilot. 

Neighbors, IBM employees and children in the area surrounded the site, which is just a few hundred yards from the day care center Country Children's Center on Pines Bridge Road. 

Michell Cambareri, who lives near by on Crow Hill Road, was walking her dog when she said she saw the plane flying low near the trees. There was no smoke or flames coming out of the plane, but she heard the engine sputtering.

"I saw the plane flying in the air, having engine difficulty and it was sputtering," she said. "Then, it looked liked the pilot was trying to turn on the engine again, but every time he tried, it just cut off."

Click on the video above for more on the story.

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zurrix April 23, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Miracle? If a hand came out of the clouds and saved them it's a miracle...this is good luck.
Don Upham April 23, 2012 at 09:54 PM
When I received my flight training through the U.S. Navy, procedures for just such an emergency landing as this were practiced on every flight. The instructor would pull the power back to idle and you had quickly put the aircraft into a gliding configuration, pick a field or roadway and maneuver the aircraft to line up for a power off landing while calling out your procedures all along the way. In addition every landing during training to even a paved field was practiced power off using the same procedures. Pilots are trained to make such an emergency landing, however few in general aviation practice regularly or keep their cool well enough to follow the procedure which requires immediately pushing the nose down to keep the plane in a glide and not cause it to stall (a term meaning that there is not enough wind speed over the wings to maintain lift for the glide). These gentlemen did what they had been trained to do and were able to walk away. Fortunately there was a field to make the emergency landing in.
Don Upham April 23, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Actually there is a company in Florida that sells a plane with a built in parachute, but most pilots are trained to make this type of an emergency landing but most do not practice or keep their cool to follow the procedures so end up falling out of the sky instead of gliding the plane to a survivable landing. Of course if you damage the aircraft in a mid air collision, there is not much of anything that is going to help you out.
Bob H April 23, 2012 at 11:15 PM
This is not exactly a "Small plane" by my standards. I have one almost like it. Executed correctly, touchdown could have been as low as 60 miles an hour. Given a few hundred feet of grass that you see here the landing would be almost a non-event if it were not for the media and the uneducated public. Driving the freeway or a city street at 60 to 80 mph and having cars and less that expert drivers within a couple of feet of me is far more dangerous. I have been flying for more than 50 years with only one engine failure (40 years ago). That landing was in a small pasture field with no damage to aircraft or passengers. The media ignored that one. It is over 100 years since Orville and Wilbur did their thing and flight seems to be magic to most of the public. Should we blame our education system, the media, fear mongering politicians or all of the above!
Plamena Pesheva April 24, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Here is an update: A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman tells me the investigation has begun, but it's still in the very early stages to comment on what caused the plane crash. She said the damage to the aircraft was "substantial." http://patch.com/A-sF0Y

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