2 pilots walk away from crash at Brookhaven airport

Two pilots walked away without serious injuries after a single-engine airplane landed upside-down at Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley. Videojournalist: Stringer News Service (July 28, 2013)

A single-engine airplane nose-dived and flipped Sunday while taking off from the Brookhaven Town airport, officials said, coming to rest upside-down near a runway that neighbors want to see shut down due to safety concerns.

The two pilots in the plane, who were not identified, walked away from the crash without serious injuries, officials said.

The plane, a Cessna C210, took off from Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley at 11:45 a.m. It came down hard on the runway and the aircraft flipped over, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

There was "some kind of mechanical failure" after it got off the ground, Brookhaven Town spokesman Jack Krieger said. "The plane tumbled over."

Brookhaven Public Safety Commissioner Peter O'Leary said the plane nose-dived from 20 to 25 feet in the air.

The airport was shut down for about 3 hours Sunday as workers and emergency crews removed the plane, which came to rest on its roof about 10 feet off the runway. It was visible from the parking lot of Dowling College's School of Aviation, just to the north of the airport.

The plane is registered to Robert W. Grace of Patchogue, according to FAA records. He could not be reached for comment Sunday.

It's the third plane crash in the region in the past week. Last Monday, a Southwest Airlines jet landed on its nose and skidded down the runway at LaGuardia Airport, injuring 10 of its 143 passengers.

On Friday, a single-engine plane landed on its belly at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. That plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, landed with its landing gear up. There were no injuries.

The Brookhaven crash sparked renewed calls from those who want to see the airport shut down.

"Absolutely close the airport," said Caroline Ittig, 52, who lives near Brookhaven Calabro Airport. "Our major concern is safety. There is no need for the airport. How do you not fear for safety when you have planes crashing down around you? We just want it closed."

Last year, an advisory panel recommended that flight patterns be changed at the airport after two separate crashes there caused the deaths of two people and injuries to three others.

But Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico said those recommendations pertained to flight patterns and noise levels, not takeoffs.

"I think everyone onboard is very fortunate to walk away relatively unharmed," Panico said of Sunday's crash.

While Dowling College has a flight school at the airport, Panico said there was no indication training was involved.

Shirley resident Raymond Keenan, often a critic of the airport, said there's concern in the area about the airport.

"I'm in favor of closing the airport and putting it to better use," said Keenan. "You can add solar panels at the airport and generate revenue."

"We're fortunate there are no serious injuries," Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said.

The FAA said the damage suffered by the Cessna "is substantial." The FAA is investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified, the FAA said.

With Jennifer Barrios

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