Skydiving Plane Crashes After Failed Takeoff; 11 Injured
ORANGE, Va. (AP) _ A small plane carrying 10 skydivers bounced off the end of the runway during a failed takeoff and cartwheeled into a pasture Saturday, injuring all those on aboard.
Witnesses said the twin-engine plane ran out of runway when it attempted to take off from the 3,200-foot air strip in this north-central Virginia town.
``It looked normal,″ said airport operator Caleb Glick. ``Then it went off the end and cartwheeled.″
Glick’s son, Mervin, jumped into his truck and sped toward the smoking wreck, expecting the worst. When he got to the remains of the plane, he saw the cabin was in one piece but the wings and tail had been sheared off.
``When I saw the cabin of the airplane intact, my eyes just about fell on the floor,″ he said.
Several skydivers had already climbed out of the smoldering wreckage when Glick and other bystanders pulled up, but a few injured passengers were still strapped into the cabin.
``I was hollering for extra help,″ said Mervin Glick, 27, who has worked as a volunteer firefighter. ``We needed a pocket knife to cut the seat belt from one of the seriously injured ones.″
About 30 seconds after the last victim was pulled from the wreck, the cabin exploded in flames.
``I could not believe anybody came out of that alive,″ said Caleb Glick.
All 10 passengers and the pilot were taken to area hospitals. One was in critical condition, one in serious and four in fair. Another was X-rayed for possible broken ribs. Four were treated and released.