More detail on this person: 2 KILLED AS PLANE AND HELICOPTER COLLIDE By ROBERT HANLEY, Special to the New York Times Published: September 24, 1981 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Sept. 23- A twin-engine private plane and a helicopter collided in midair near Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex this morning, killing the two-man crew of the helicopter and injuring the pilot and passenger on th e plane. A 10-foot section of the helicopter was sheared off and the craft plummeted to the asphalt pavement of a parking lot between the football stadium and the nearby Meadowlands Race Track. The helicopter exploded on impact and disintegrated in flames. The plane lost its left wing tip and left engine and flew northeasterly in wobbly fashion for a quarter mile before crashlanding in 10-foot-high marsh reeds about 100 yards behind a warehouse. Both men aboard the plane managed to struggle clear of the wreckage before it caught fire. Both craft were heading for Teterboro Airport, about two miles north of the complex, when the crash occurred at about 8:45 A.M. The two men killed were identified as John Hewitt, the pilot, 38 years old, of Bricktown, and Mark Reynolds, the co-pilot, 24, of Plainfield. J. Both were employed by Ronson Aviation Inc. of Trenton, which owned the helicopter, a five-seat Bell JetRanger. They were flying from a small airport at Linden to pick up a passenger at Teterboro. Passenger Treated and Released The plane, a propeller-driven Piper Seneca, was owned by Seminole Air Charter Inc. of Pittsford, N.Y. Its pilot, Donald Kirby, 43, of Pittsford, was transporting John McCrory, 56, a lawyer from Rochester, to Teterboro. Mr. Kirby suffered two fractured vertebrae and a concussion and was placed in the intensive care unit at Riverside General Hospital in nearby Secaucus. Mr. McCrory suffered bruises on his hands and knees and was released from the hospital after treatment. An eyewitness to the collision, Gil Chapman, manager of the Stadium Club in Giants Stadium, said the plane was banking toward the northeast above the complex with its left wing pointed downward when the crash occurred. ''The tip of the wing actually hit the top blade of the helicopter,'' Mr. Chapman said. Another eye witness, John Connolly, a security guard at the track, said the heli copter ''made a sharp bank to the left a second before the impact.'' Plane Hit From Below Before leaving the hospital, Mr. McCrory, the passenger, said: ''We were hit from below. The pilot told me the left wing tip was sheared off. We started for the runway but there was no way. There was fire before we hit the ground.'' Officer Richard Berta of the Carlstadt Police Department, found Mr. McCrory and Mr. Kirby as they were groping through the tall reeds. ''The pilot did a fantastic job by bellyflopping that plane onto the marshlands,'' he said. ''The manuever probably saved his life and that of the passenger.'' An investigation into the collision was begun by a three-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which will assist in the inquiry, discounted suggestions that the air traffic controller strike was a factor in the crash. ''We don't want to prejudge the investigation, but at this point it does not appear to be so,'' said Irving Moss, the F.A.A. spokesman. Mr. Moss said five air traffic controllers were manning Teterboro's control tower at the time. He called that an ample number and said all were qualified. Radio Contact Established Both craft were in radio communication with Teterboro's control tower shortly before the crash, according to Richard Marakovits, chief of the Eastern region of the F.A.A.'s air traffic operations at Kennedy International Airport. He said the last message from the helicopter said it was south of Teterboro and intending to land at the airport's south ramp, a pad frequently used by helicopters at the southern end of the airport's two runways. The tower instructed the helicopter to radio back when it was a mile south of the airport, Mr. Marakovits said. Twenty seconds later, Mr. Kirby, the pilot of the twin-engine plane, radioed that he was ''turning onto his base leg,'' Mr. Marakovits said. That was just before the plane's final turn to Teterboro's runway. It was not immediately clear whether the airplane had been assigned any altitude for the final phase of its flight by air traffic controllers at Teterboro. Ira J. Furman, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said that would be determined after investigators listened to recordings of communications between the plane and the control tower. F.A.A. sources said the helicopter was flying under ''visual flight rules,'' an F.A.A. regulation that permits pilots to fly without strict directional control by airport flight controllers. Specific app roach altitudes are not assigned under vis ual flight rules, which apply when horizontal visibility is at least three miles and cloud ceilings are above 1,000 feet. Pilots must ta ke precautions to avoid approaching other aircraft. Use of visual flight rules is said to be common at smaller airports with heavy loads of corporate air traffic and recreational flying. Teterboro, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has considerable such traffic daily. A spokesman said it handled 700 to 800 flights daily.
This information was last updated 09/10/2018
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