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1 critical as small plane crashes at Shelter Island airfield

Emergency personnel investigate the scene after a plane

Emergency personnel investigate the scene after a plane crashed at the at the Klenawicus Airfield on Shelter Island on April 13, 2015. Photo Credit: John Roca

A small plane crashed on Shelter Island Monday night and the sole occupant was critically injured, fire and police officials said.

Pilot Michael Russo, 80, of Shelter Island, was taking off from Klenawicus Airfield when his light sport plane, a single-engine Cessna 162, crash-landed in the brush field next to the grassy airstrip about 6:20 p.m., said Det. Sgt. Jack Thilberg of the Shelter Island police.

He was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition with chest and leg trauma, police said.

"He got up at least 30 feet in the air," Thilberg said. "At some point after taking off, witnesses reported the plane deviated to the right and crashed."

He said residents living near the airfield saw the take off and two civilians who heard the crash extricated Russo.

The plane, made in 2011, is registered to SMC Aviation, based at Republic Airport in Farmingdale. It was not clear whether Russo is connected to the corporation or leases the plane, Thilberg said.

A preliminary investigation indicates the plane hit the ground nose-first, he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate, an agency spokeswoman said. Thilberg said they are expected to arrive Tuesday.

A small fire on the plane was quickly put out, authorities said, and the fuel drained.

The airfield is operated by the Shelter Island Pilots' Association.

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