FAA investigating LVIA plane crash, no injuries
By KEVIN AMERMAN
The Morning Call, Allentown
October 15, 2012 12:00 AM
The Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday began investigating the crash of a small, 40-year-old plane that landed in a cornfield near Lehigh Valley International Airport Friday night shortly after takeoff.
The two men aboard the plane were not injured, according to officials. Their identities have not been released.
The FAA identified the owner of the plane as Constantine G. Yialamas of Nazareth. Airport officials confirmed Yialamas is an employee with Ace Pilot Training, a flight school that rents space at the airport.
Attempts to reach Yialamas at the flight school Saturday were unsuccessful.
Charles Everett, executive director of the airport, said the crash likely involved a flight school student, but he’s not sure if a student was in the pilot or co-pilot seat.
Everett said he was told that the pilot had a “rough engine and wanted to head back” to the airport. Everett doesn’t believe the plane, listed in an FAA registry as a Piper PA-28-140 fixed wing single-engine plane built in 1972, was severely damaged.
“There might be slight damage,” he said.
The plane left the runway at 6:34 p.m., according to the FAA. After experiencing trouble, the pilot tried to return to the airport, but ended up descending into the cornfield near the border of Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and Allen Township, about a mile and a half from the airport.
Firefighters and airport workers rushed to the area and searched the woods and fields for more than a half-hour before the pilot radioed he was trying to find his way out of the field with a flashlight.
The pilot and his co-pilot emerged from the field along Willowbrook Road in Hanover Township, about 7:15 p.m.
An ambulance crew was sent to evaluate the two men.
Firefighters found the aircraft about 7:45 p.m.
Everett said it’s been “many years” since an incident like this occurred at the airport, but he couldn’t supply a specific date. Airport spokeswoman Susan Kittle said she also didn’t know the last time a crash occurred out of LVIA.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said it could take up to a year for the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the crash.
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