Two are killed as plane crashes in Orange
By John M. Guilfoil, Globe Staff | August 11, 2010
Two people died last night when the small plane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff from the municipal airport of the north-central Massachusetts town of Orange, authorities said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot and passenger of a single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk were killed when the plane went down in a wooded area of Orange about 1 mile from the airport.
FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the plane is registered to Jack A. Johnson of Ellicott City, Md.
Reached by phone last night, Johnson’s wife, Mary, said her husband was piloting the plane with a friend, Jay Jaso, also of Ellicott City, to Maine for a vacation.
Mary Johnson said her husband originally left on the trip from Fort Meade, Md.
Peters said Jack Johnson had filed a flight plan to Maine and had been in contact with flight controllers from Nashua and Hartford while en route to Orange, where he had stopped to refuel.
Peters, however, and other authorities said they were unable to provide the identities of the two victims.
The cause of the crash is also unknown.
The plane went down at 9:10 p.m. Residents who heard the plane crash said skies were clear at the time.
The area where the plane went down apparently is difficult to access. Nearby residents described it as thickly wooded and swampy in some places, and said it was difficult to see what had happened.
“I was just sitting down and watching TV and I heard this big bang,’’ said Rose Clough, who lives on nearby Broadway Street. “I thought it was a tree falling down.’’
A State Police helicopter was dispatched from Lawrence, but it had to return after it encountered thunderstorms, said Trooper Thomas Murphy, a State Police spokesman.
The airport is on the outskirts of downtown Orange, near Route 2. The town-owned airport is busy, with an average of 118 flights a day, according to FAA records. It is popularly known as the location of Jumptown, a skydiving school and club that calls itself the first commercial skydiving operation in the United States.
John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil.
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