Plane overshoots Koladza runway in Great Barrington, FAA investigating

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Walter J. Koladza Airport is temporarily closed to all air traffic except in an emergency after a plane overshot the west end of the runway upon takeoff Sunday evening and crashed into a hayfield on a neighbor's land.

It appears there were no injuries; according to the town police incident log, the occupants of the plane refused medical treatment. The number of passengers is still unclear.

The plane was still sitting upright Monday morning in the ice-encrusted field below the end the 2,600-foot runway, where an investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration was seen climbing out of the twin propeller aircraft.

He declined comment, citing the investigation.

The airport's business manager, Mark Roggen, told The Eagle he had not yet heard of the incident but was about to call the airport.

At about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, police received a call for a "plane crash," and soon fire and rescue trucks were sent to the scene, and the National Transportation Safety Board was contacted, according to the police incident log.

Claudia Shapiro and Daniel Bell own the land beyond the runway, and their home sits about 100 feet from where the plane came to a rest.

Shapiro declined to speak to The Eagle, but gave permission to take photographs from her property.

Holly Hamer, who lives near the airport, is again raising concerns about the FAA-required "Runway Safety Area" at Koladza.

"The pilot bailout shouldn't be someone's backyard," she said.

In Massachusetts, only 49 percent of airports meet this FAA standard, according to a state Department of Transportation report.

The small airport off Route 71 and Seekonk Cross Road has, over the last two years, been the center of zoning and environmental controversies after filing for a permit to build three hangars.

The runway safety area has been just one of many issues of concern to the airport's neighbors.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter at @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871


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