Plane down at Schenectady County Airport September 23, 2008 Updated 3:37 p.m. By Steven Cook (Contact) Gazette Reporter
GLENVILLE — A small plane crashed about 3 p.m. today near the Schenectady County Airport. The small plane went down behind the car wash near the Empire State Aerosciences Museum on Route 50. It was unclear how many people were aboard. Firefighters and rescue personnel were on the scene, including a MedFlight helicopter. Several onlookers gathered behind the car wash and the museum as rescue crews worked at the scene. Several people who were near the scene at the time of the crash said they did not hear anything until rescue crews began arriving.
Test pilot critical after crash Witnesses and police say experimental plane lost power and hit trees; FAA looking into cause
By JIMMY VIELKIND, Staff writer First published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
GLENVILLE -- Federal Aviation officials worked through the night to determine why an experimental plane crashed Tuesday afternoon, leaving the pilot hospitalized in critical condition. Witnesses watched the aircraft -- a three-quarter-scale replica of a World War II-era P-51 Mustang -- take off from Schenectady County Airport just before 3 p.m., headed north. Jim Lott, who works at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum on the eastern edge of the runway, said he saw people working on the plane all day, even testing the engine on the tarmac.
"It looked like he was fighting to keep the nose up," Lott said. "It was wobbling from side to side, like a bird flapping its wings. He was trying to keep it up, but he didn't clear the trees."
The flight lasted about a minute, and the plane climbed to about 200 feet. Another pilot -- who declined to be named -- said he was taxiing on the runway and watched the mini-Mustang slide beneath the tree line. He listened to the radio conversation with the tower. "He said he lost power. They cleared him to land on any runway, but he didn't make it."
The crash was reported at 3:01 p.m., Glenville Police Sgt. Stephen Janik said. Firefighters from Stratton Air National Guard base on the other side of the tarmac were the first to arrive, and found the plane upside down, tangled in some trees. The pilot was still in the cockpit, unable to escape, as a fire burned in the engine compartment, Janik said.
The flames were extinguished. Firefighters cut down tree limbs and ripped off the plane's door. The pilot -- whose name was not released, but whom Janik described as a 42-year-old test pilot who did not own the plane -- was conscious at the scene. But he eventually blacked out and had to be resuscitated by paramedics, Chief Gregg Petricca of the Thomas Corners Fire Department said.
The pilot was taken to Ellis Hospital by ambulance and stabilized before being transferred to Albany Medical Center Hospital by helicopter. Janik said he suffered head injuries and other injuries, and was in critical condition.
The plane crashed into woods just west of the airport's north-south runway and north of a gravel access road. Eleven emergency departments were activated for the crash, and vehicles lined the street. A State Police helicopter circled the crash site to take pictures of the area. Earlier, smoke wafted into the back yards of houses on nearby Lincoln Drive.
Teresa Nelson, 39, was sitting in her kitchen doing online course work. "I heard what I thought was a package being thrown against my door from like UPS, and then my dogs went nuts," she said. She has lived on the street for less than a year and called the crash "too close for comfort."
Janik said the last crash in the county was in 2001, when an air ambulance jet skidded out of control after an aborted takeoff, stopping just a dozen feet from the busy Freeman's Bridge Road-Route 50 intersection.
The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, Janik said, and officials from the National Transportation Safety Board will arrive today.
It was not immediately clear who owned the plane. FAA officials did not immediately return a call for comment. Jimmy Vielkind can be reached at 454-5043 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Skip Dickstein contributed to this story.
GLENVILLE Pilot injured in crash known for taking children on flights BY STEVEN COOK Gazette Reporter
The pilot critically injured when the small plane he was fl ying crashed near the Schenectady County Airport was described Wednesday as a generous man who volunteered with a program introducing children to flying. Charlie Hudson, 42, of Saratoga Springs, remained in critical condition Wednesday at Albany Medical Center, a day after a replica World War II plane he was flying slammed into trees near the airport. He crashed just north of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum, where once a year Hudson and other pilots gave plane rides to children from the Schenectady Boys and Girls Club. “He’s a wonderful person, so generous with the kids,” program chairman Mardy Moore said. “He has such a great attitude.” The program is offered once a year, with the 25-minute flights a highlight for many of the children. The flights also happen before lunch. Hudson always stays to talk to the children afterward, she said. Meanwhile, the investigation into why Hudson crashed continued on Wednesday. The plane went down after making several high-speed taxis on the runway, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokes- woman. Hudson was then cleared for takeoff and crashed shortly afterward. Brian Raynor, a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said initial indications are that the plane had been idle for some time and was being brought back to flyable status. He cautioned, however, that was preliminary and a better understanding of what caused the crash — and if the plane’s condition played a role — would come after an investigation. The plane, a replica P-51 Mustang, was described as home-built, with an airworthiness date of October 2000, according to FAA records. It’s registered to Northeastern Aero Classics in Glenmont. Officials with the company could not be reached Wednesday. No one was home at Hudson’s listed Saratoga Springs address Wednesday. Neighbors declined to comment. Hudson was also described Wednesday as a pilot with a lengthy flying record. He received his recreational pilot’s certificate in 2002, with private pilot for a single engine in 2003, according to the FAA. The first person on the scene of the crash Tuesday was museum volunteer John Panoski. Asked about Hudson Wednesday, Panoski rattled off a list of pilot ratings Hudson has received. “He’s been around airplanes for a while,” Panoski said. Moore said she couldn’t stop thinking of Hudson on Wednesday. When the time is right, she said she hoped to contact some of the children who have participated in the Young Eagles program with Hudson and organize get well cards. “I can’t speak highly enough of him,” Moore said. “He’s such a good person, such a good pilot.”
GLENVILLE Pilot succumbs to injuries suffered in airport crash BY STEVEN COOK Gazette Reporter Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122 or
A Saratoga Springs man described as an excellent pilot died over the weekend, succumbing to injuries suffered in last week’s plane crash at the Schenectady County Airport. Charlie Hudson, 42, died Saturday at Albany Medical Center. He was father of two. His death came four days after the replica World War II fighter aircraft went down in a stand of trees just off the airport runway. The veteran pilot crashed just after takeoff following a series of high-speed taxis. Hudson radioed about a problem, but couldn’t make it back to the runway, witnesses said. A federal investigation into the crash continues. “We’re missing a very good person and a really fine individual,” said Mardy Moore, who heads a children’s aviation program for which Hudson volunteered. “He was generous, kind and an excellent pilot.” Hudson owned and operated BCD Tire Chip Manufacturing in Hagaman for several years, according to his obituary, available on the funeral home’s Web site. He was married for more than 18 years to his wife, Caroline. They had two sons, Colby and Drew. “His life revolved around his family and he had a great passion for coaching and helping others,” the obituary reads. When not with his family, he enjoyed being at the airport and flying. It was once a year that Hudson would be among several pilots helping with the Young Eagles program at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum. The program is offered once a year, with the 25-minute flights a highlight for many of the children. The children are members of the Schenectady Boys and Girls Clubs. He received his recreational pilot’s certificate in 2002, with private pilot for a single engine in 2003, according to the FAA. Services are to be this afternoon at 4:30 at the Northway Church, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park. There will be no calling hours. Memorial donations may be made in his name to The Charlie Hudson Memorial at any Saratoga National Bank for the benefit of the education of Colby and Drew. Arrangements are under the direction of the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Home, 628 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
Charlie Hudson, who died Saturday of injuries suffered in a plane crash last week in Glenville, is pictured in May 2007 with two children who got to fly with him. PHOTO PROVIDED