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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Pilot's Body Recovered From Pownal Crash Site

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, August 05, 2006

David Covell of the Vermont State Police, NTSB Investigator Paul Cox and Shaftsbury State Police Barracks Acting Commander Sgt. Michael Manning delivered an Aug. 5 noontime press briefing about an Aug. 4 plane crash.
Pownal - The body of a pilot who was flying a twin engine AirNow airplane that crashed in eastern Pownal on Friday morning [Aug. 4] was recovered from the wreckage site during the Aug. 5 morning by crash investigators.

Pilot From Batavia, N.Y.

William Smith of Batavia, N.Y. was killed during the crash. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed, police said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing. Officials of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Bureau are conducting the investigation and Vermont State Police officers are assisting with the investigation.

Missing Plane Reported Friday Morning

AirNow is an air freight firm with corporate offices on Walloomsac Road in Bennington, Vt.. The company has a 25-year air shipping history.

The downed plane was traveling from New York to the Bennington Airport and was diverted to Albany, N.Y. due to Friday morning weather conditions, according to information provided by the Vermont State Police. Air traffic controllers lost communication with the airplane, an Embraer 110 cargo plane, at about 9:30 a.m. and state police were notified of the missing airplane at about 10 a.m..

Body Found Friday

Members of the Civil Air Patrol discovered the wreckage later in the day on Friday. The crash site is an extremely dense wooded area east of Pownal and west of Stamford, Vt. near an area known as a Stamford wildlife management area. State police officers and officials of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife were able to reach the scene and found the pilot dead. There were no passengers in the plane, police said.

Investigation Underway

The site is extremely difficult to navigate, police said. All-terrain vehicles are being used to cover part of the distance to the site and recovery workers and investigators are hiking to reach the wreckage, police said. Markings are in place so that recovery workers and investigators can locate the scene.

NTSB investigator Paul Cox said that the investigation is currently at an on-scene phase. Crash site information and evidence will be observed and collected before any wreckage can be removed, Cox said. A preliminary NTSB report may be available within 10 days and once a preliminary report is completed, it may be accessed at a www.ntsb.gov Internet web site, Cox said.

Wreckage removal could begin on Aug. 6 and it is likely that the plane will be removed piece by piece, according to a source close to the investigation.

Aspects of the investigation include reviewing pilot training records,air traffic control records, AirNow records, and other factors, Cox said.

"What we look at is man, machine, and environment," Cox said.

A detailed crash report could take up to six months to complete and will be reviewed by NTSB officials in Washington D.C..

NTSB officials will release a final report about the crash after the review, and the entire process could take about a year, Cox said.

Pownal Incident Command Center

An incident command center has been erected at the Pownal Valley Volunteer Fire Department fire house on Route 7. The command center serves as a hub of communication and a storage area for necessary supplies.

Vermont State Police Sgt. Michael Manning, who is the acting commander for Shaftsbury, Vt. state police barracks, described the command center.

"It's a communications point, a place where the records are kept," he said. "We keep track of things and make sure that people are accounted for. It's a place where supplies can be brought and where people can get their assignments and be on their way. An incident command post provides scene security."

The Pownal Valley fire house is a good command location because of its' proximity to Route 7 and it's central town location, which makes the site easy to find, Manning said.

The incident command center commander was town Constable Joel Howard, Manning said. Howard is also an assistant fire chief for the Pownal Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

Previous AirNow Embraer 110 Crashes

AirNow has reportedly endured difficulties with the Embraer 110 plane in the past. A pilot flying the same type of plane was killed during a January 2005 crash at a New Hampshire airport. The crash occurred during heavy fog conditions and the cause was ruled by the NTSB as pilot error.

A pilot flying one of the planes made an emergency landing in South Carolina in December; the female pilot was reportedly not seriously injured. In November, another AirNow pilot crashed into a New Hampshire-based Wal-Mart garden center and that pilot reportedly escaped serious injury as well.

According to information available at the AirNow Internet web site, the company operates a trio of principle aircraft, including Cessna Caravans with an advertised payload of up to 3,000 pounds, Shorts SD3-60 with an advertised payload of up to 7,500 pounds of payload and 1600 cubic feet of volume, and "extensively modified Embraer Bandeirante" airplanes.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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