HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- A single engine Aeronica model airplane crashed at the western edge of the Hoosick Falls Country Club Sunday afternoon, approximately 100 yards from homes and people enjoying an afternoon of golf.
Hoosick Falls Police Chief Robert Ashe said the pilot of the craft, Stanton King, of Bunker Hill Road in Valley Falls, N.Y., suffered injuries to his head and neck and was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington by the Cambridge Valley Rescue Squad.
SVMC Spokesman Kevin Robinson said King was transferred from the hospital to another facility in critical condition. He could not say to which facility or how King was transported.
Ashe said that according to witnesses King was alert and talking when rescue personnel arrived. He said the cause of the crash is unknown but the Federal Aviation Administration has sent an investigator who was expected to be on scene late Sunday afternoon.
The crash was reported shortly before 1 p.m. Ashe said King had flown the airplane out of Cambridge.
James Smith, of Ashley Drive near where the airplane went down, witnessed the crash. "I was in the garage and I heard it," he said. "It caught my attention."
He saw the airplane circling low over the field. When it was about 50 yards in the air it suddenly went into a nose-dive and hit the ground. Smith said he and others went to the site of the crash where they found the pilot attempting to get out.
"He was conscious when we got there," Smith said. "He was complaining of neck pain."
King was encouraged to stay in the airplane and not move until rescue squads could arrive, Smith said.
Those living nearby as well as golfers who saw the airplane go down ran to the crash site.
"I watched the thing go squirrely," said Drew Haskell, who was playing golf during the incident. "I was right there on the third green. I said 'he's going down, this ain't right.'"
There was a loud boom and a snapping noise and between 12 and 14 people went running to the crash, Haskell said. "He nose-dived hard. He was completely vertical."
The airplane went down only a few dozen feet from Katy Lilac's back yard. Lilac lives on Rogers Avenue and said she did not see the crash or hear the airplane until it hit the ground.
"It's not very often you see a plane in your back yard," she said. "Thank God it didn't land in either the pool or in the house."
Lilac said she was initially worried for her and her family's safety but they did not have to evacuate.
"My daughter was inside and I wanted to get her out because I could smell gas," Lilac said.
There was no evidence of fire at the crash scene, which police encircled with yellow tape. Ashe said the Hoosick and North Hoosick fire departments were on scene, as was the Hoosick Ambulance Service.