State police Capt. Francis Coots said the privately owned, single-engine plane was flying at about 6,500 feet last Thursday morning when its propeller came off. The pilot, Benjamin Brown of North Carolina, radioed a mayday and managed to safely crash land the plane in Gull Lake in northern Herkimer County.
"The propeller came off,” Coots said, “the pilot realized he needed to land, and he knew he probably was going to have one, maybe two chances to circle around. He put it right down in the pond, and it just skidded right across the surface until it came to a stop. Then they opened up the door and jumped out into the water. He did a great job. It was amazing."
The pilot and his passenger were rescued soon after by New York Air National Guard helicopter crews flying to Fort Drum. They were uninjured.
The plane was recovered from the remote lake over the weekend. It was floated, towed to shore, disassembled and then trucked away by a private salvage company. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
The plane, which was flying from Burlington, Vt. to Rome, N.Y., was contracted by the Department of Defense to support a Vermont Air National Guard training exercise that’s been going on over the Adirondacks, Fort Drum and parts of New Hampshire. The training exercise started Aug. 14 and will end later this week.