News Plane Crashes Update News — 30 September 2011

Photo: Vincent resident Richard Gray is shown flying a homemade RV plane in this 2004 photo.

A Vincent man who has won several awards for plane-building was listed as the co-pilot of a small homemade single-engine RV 10 airplane that crashed in a brushy area along Ohio 7 near the Eramet Marietta plant Tuesday evening.

According to a report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Marietta post, Richard Gray, 55, was co-piloting the aircraft for pilot Nicholas Austin of Old Fredericksburg, Texas.

Gray runs Ohio Valley RVators Builder Assistance at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, a finishing business for the homemade RV planes.

“His quality of work is off the page and he’s well-known by RV builders across the country,” said Terry Moore, manager at the Mid-Ohio Valley Airport.

Moore said both Gray and Austin were experienced pilots.

They had apparently flown the RV 10 more than once on Tuesday.

“Our logs show we fueled the plane twice yesterday,” Moore said on Wednesday.

He said airport personnel reported the plane was in the air for only a few minutes before the pilot called in on the radio.

Investigators reported the plane took off from the Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport at approximately 6:55 p.m. and crashed at 7:12 p.m.

“He told the tower that he had some problems and then said he didn’t think they would be able to make it back to the airfield,” Moore said, adding that the control tower called 911 right away.

“I’m sure the pilot had to make some quick decisions on where to land the plane,” he said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported the plane caught fire during the crash and both men received serious burns. They were reportedly transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital and later flown by Life Flight to The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus.

An OSU Medical Center spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon that Austin was listed in fair condition but Gray’s condition is not known as he was not logged as a patient in the hospital system.

After the crash Austin told police he had heard a noise and then lost control during the flight. Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom and seeing a wisp of smoke emanating from the plane seconds before it crashed in a brush-covered area about 200 yards from Ohio 7.

Police said the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were notified.

FAA officials were investigating the scene Wednesday.

Fire and rescue units from the Warren Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, as well as an emergency crew from Eramet, also responded.

The crash occurred on a vacant piece of Eramet property between Ohio 7 and the Ohio River.

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