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Two Small Planes Collide in Air, Killing Two

May 22, 1989

BRADFORD, Vt. (AP) _ Two small airplanes collided in the air along the New Hampshire-Vermont border Sunday, sending one hurtling into a river and killing both people aboard. The other plane landed safely on a highway.

State police and eye witnesses said they were amazed that the pilot of the second plane was able to land safely because his windshield had been shattered by what appeared to be a tail piece from the first plane.

The pilot was identified as Zachary Clark of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He and his passenger, a woman whose name was not released, were listed in fair condition Sunday night at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, N.H.

The dead were reported to be from New Hampshire, although their names were not released. The two were believed to have been flying out of Lebanon, N.H.

According to police and eyewitnesses, it appeared that Clark’s plane was headed south when the other plane crossed slightly above, heading southeast, at about 1 p.m.

″According to the preliminary police report, the landing gear on one struck the fuselage of the other,″ said Mike Ciccarelli, a spokesman for the FAA in Boston.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said it may be six months before a formal report on the cause of the accident is completed.

The collision between the two Cessna 172s occurred as Vernon Clark of Lebanon, N.H., was playing golf at the Bradford Golf Club.

″There was this crunch. And the young fellow playing with me looked up at the noise and said, ‘My God, those two planes just collided.’ I looked up and saw one of the planes veer away to the river and go into a spin. It seemed to take a long time to come down.″

The plane crashed into the Waits River, just west of its convergence with the Connecticut River. Clark’s plane managed to come down on Interstate 91 a short distance away, police said.

Greg Kemmis, a reporter for the Caledonian Record, saw the second plane land as he was driving north on the highway.

″When I got there, the plane was parked in the breakdown lane like it belonged there,″ Kemmis said. ″It looked natural - except there was a wing sticking in the right lane.″

Kemmis said that when he got a closer look at the plane, he noticed that the tail section of another plane had shattered the cockpit window and was sticking out over the nose.

Ciccarelli said neither plane was under FAA traffic control at the time of the crash. Visibility was 10 miles with haze, he said.

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