EAGLESWOOD – An out-of-town pilot suffered only minor injuries following a Tuesday night crash just outside the Eagles Nest Airport in West Creek.
The pilot, Kenneth R. Miess from Schertz, Texas, had just re-fueled his vintage, red 1947 Stinson fixed-wing single engine plane at the Eagles Nest Airport and was returning back to Fredrick, Maryland. Soon after takeoff, he started to experience a mechanical malfunction and saw smoke in the cockpit. He was forced to make an emergency landing.
Lieutenant Schafer of the New Jersey State Police confirmed that the Tuckerton Police Station received a call of an aircraft incident at 108 Laurel Hill Lane in Eagleswood Township at 8:34 p.m. Miess was evaluated by local EMS on the scene and treated for minor injuries, but signed off that he did not want further medical treatment.
Caroline Marucci lives four houses from the airport’s landing strip. She works as a flight attendant at Newark Airport and was trying to catch some sleep before a 12:45 a.m. wake up call when she heard a loud crashing sound and saw something red through the trees. “I thought it was a car that crashed,” she said.
Marucci said she saw a man walk up her driveway and ring the doorbell, which she later realized was Miess looking for help, but said she was home alone and afraid to answer the door.
When she opened her window, she was greeted with an overwhelming fuel smell, but says she still thought it was a car crash. Her home is in a cul-de-sac and she thought someone might have overshot the turn. After running outside to join her curious neighbors, she started to hear a crackling sound, but didn’t see flames. “The fuel smell was very intense, it hit you right in the face,” she said. “How he walked out, he is extremely blessed.”
Marucci and her neighbors are certainly used to plane traffic, but worry about being in the airport’s line of fire. She said when her family built their home back in 2003, the airport was little more than a dirt runway. Now, she said they’re in what’s considered a crash zone.
“Had he maintained altitude he would have literally hit the bedroom where I was sleeping. We are in a dangerous situation here with this airport.”
The New Jersey State Police contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board for further investigation. Paul Basilotto, who is an aviation inspector with the FAA, arrived on scene to take a statement from Meiss.
Also assisting on the scene was the Eagleswood Fire Company. The Department of Environmental Protection has also been notified and the FAA will be now working on their end of the investigation.