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Plane hits runway sign at LI MacArthur, officials say

A small plane is towed away after it

A small plane is towed away after it hit a sign at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma while taxiing in preparation for takeoff on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. Credit: James Carbone

A small plane hit a sign while taxiing at Long Island MacArthur Airport on Sunday in preparation for takeoff, officials said.

Airport Commissioner Shelley LaRose said the single-engine Cessna left the taxiway at 11:50 a.m. and airport personnel saw the plane strike the sign.

“There are [routinely] a lot of people on the airfield watching [for planes] . . . and fire rescue as well,” LaRose said. “He [the pilot] was getting ready to leave — he was taxiing out and left the taxiway and hit a sign.”

She said the sign directed pilots to the ramp or runway area. “It’s a guidance sign,” she added.

“There was no transmission from the pilot involved,” LaRose said, because the aircraft did not become airborne at any time. “He didn’t radio in an emergency.”

The pilot was not based at the airport and was taken to the hospital, she said. The pilot was not identified by authorities.

He was in stable condition and was taken by Community Ambulance Company of Sayville to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, according to an email statement sent by Jamie Atkinson, the ambulance group’s vice president.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen identified the airplane as a Cessna 182. The 182 Skylane seats up to four people, including the pilot. According to an FAA registry, the serial number on that plane showed it was registered to the North Shore Aero Club Inc. of Topsfield, Massachusetts.

Tariq Fasheh, president of North Shore Aero Club, confirmed the N-number on the plane was one of three owned by the 60-member club. He said the other small planes include a Cessna 172 and a Piper Warrior, both also seating up to four, and members of the nonprofit organization can reserve the planes and sign them out for noncommercial use.

Fasheh, who learned about the accident from a reporter, said, “Any of our members can take a plane and fly it if it’s available — I had that one [the Cessna 182] last week out in Wisconsin.”

The pilot was uninjured and it appears the airplane had only minor damage, Fasheh said in an email.

LaRose said she expected the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate and that perhaps the National Transportation Safety Board would also be involved in the probe.

Bergen said the Cessna “taxied to Runway 33 Left, then went onto the grass” and airport emergency services responded.

Shortly afterward, two fire trucks and a police car were seen around the small plane on the runway immediately north of the main terminal.

The airport remained open.

At 1:09 p.m. the plane was hooked to a pickup and brought to a hangar at the west end of the airport.

With David M. Schwartz

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