Police Say Crosswinds Might Have Caused Airplane Crash

Minor injuries reported after couple’s airplane crashes at Monroeville airport Sunday.

By Heidi Dezayas

Photos (2)

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to investigate an aircraft crash that occurred at the Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield in Monroeville on Sunday.
Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole said crosswinds could have been what caused the aircraft of Pickens Gantt, 62, and his wife, Dian, 58, to crash as it was taking off from the privately-owned airport in Monroeville.

“We were standing there and could feel the wind blowing from left to right,” Cole said. “Ideally, you want to take the airplane into the wind.”
The airplane stalled and landed on its belly about 40 feet from the runway, Cole said. It caught fire, and crews extinguished the fire within five minutes of arriving at the scene.

The couple, who are from Bristol, Tenn., had been visiting with their son and his wife. They were taking off when the plane—a 1968 Mooney four-seater with a single propeller—crashed.
The couple sustained minor injuries and refused medical treatment, Cole said. He said they both were alert.
When contacted, Chaas Gantt, the couple’s son, said he and his family could not comment on the incident because of the pending investigation by the FAA.
Pickens Gantt was no flying novice, Cole said. The couple had put in about 3,000 of flying on the aircraft.
The airport, officially known as the Pittsburgh-Monroeville Airport, is located off Logans Ferry Road, near the Plum Borough border.
Cole said there have been about 10 airplane crashes at the location since the 1960s. Sunday’s crash was the first one he had experienced as a police officer; his first as a paramedic was a fatal crash in the late 1970s.
Cole said he is happy the latest incident turned out OK.
“Luckily, they walked away from this,” he said. “That always makes for a good day.”


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