Wind suspected factor in plane crash
September 20, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” Gusty winds apparently caused an airplane to overshoot a runway and crash in a Glenwood Springs neighborhood Thursday.
The pilot, Terry Harland of Eagle, suffered a split lip and his two passengers were uninjured in the incident, which occurred about 12:30 p.m.
The plane ran off the northern end of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport and down an embankment, and crossed Sky Ranch Drive. It stopped when it crashed into some small landscaping rocks on the other side of the street.
No one on the ground was injured, although witness Preston Lambeth said the plane almost hit a passing lawn care truck.
Lambeth saw the crash from his home near the airport runway.
“He was coming in for a landing and didn’t stop,” Lambeth said. “… He was skidding, for sure.”
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Randy Kempton, who does airplane inspection work for Rocky Mountain Arrow at the airport, owns the Cessna 182 Skylane that Harland was flying.
“The winds were kind of gusty and he didn’t get her stopped in time,” Kempton said.
He said winds tend to shift at the airport around the noon hour, and a gust apparently kept Harland from being able to land and stop in time.
Federal aviation authorities will investigate the crash.
Harland had used the plane to fly to Gunnison to visit his son. His daughter and a third person also were on board.
Kempton said he believes Harland is an experienced pilot with about 1,000 hours and 30 years of flying experience.
The crash heavily damaged the plane’s front end. Kempton said the 1979 plane is worth $150,000, and recently was fitted with a new engine and propeller.
But Kempton said the plane can be fixed, and his chief concern was for the people involved in the crash.
“The main thing is they’re all right,” he said.
Kempton admitted that he cringes over the publicity the crash will bring, in a town that has seen occasional debate over the future of its airport.
“It’s just not good for PR,” said Kempton, who sits on the city’s airport board.
In 1997, city residents voted overwhelmingly to keep the airport open rather than use the land for other purposes. Since then, a lot of residential development has occurred around the once-rural airport, raising safety concerns.
The airport’s future also is expected to come up for discussion as routes are considered for building a road connecting Highway 82 to south Glenwood via a new bridge over the Roaring Fork River. One possible route could involve airport land.
Valerie Bliss, who watched the crash along with Lambeth, said that as nearby residents, they see planes landing at the airport all the time and aren’t concerned about their safety. But Lambeth worried about people who use Sky Ranch Drive.
“It’s kind of creepy. People are walking with kids in strollers here all the time,” he said.
Sky Ranch Drive also is used to access several residential streets on the east side of the runway. Lambeth said he’s surprised nothing is in place to help protect the street from wayward planes, and wondered if that would change now.
Brother and sister Casey and Rose O’Halloran live along the east side of the runway and Casey heard the crash while pulling weeds Thursday. He remembers a 2004 accident in which a plane crashed between two townhomes near Sopris Elementary School, resulting in minor injuries to the pilot.
“It’s an inconvenient place to put housing ” or vice versa, to put planes,” Casey said.
But the two aren’t too worried about themselves. They’re moving in a few days to the Lakota Ranch golf course development in New Castle.
“We just have to worry about the golf balls,” Rose said.
Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO