An aerobatic stunt pilot narrowly escaped by parachute Friday when his single-passenger plane crashed in a fireball onto a northern Vermont interstate, charring the ground beneath it.
Dan Marcotte, an experienced stunt pilot, bailed from the plane before it crashed into a lane of Interstate 89 North in Highgate, Vt., near the Canadian border and the Franklin County State Airport.
Firefighters found him dangling in his parachute from a tree and cut him down. He was not seriously injured, police said, and no drivers were hit when his plane hurtled to the ground.
"Something happened to the plane; he knew something was wrong," Lt. Garry Scott of the Vt. State Police said of the pilot.
The section of I-89 was shut down twice during this emergency: once during the initial frenzy, and once as the wreckage was cleared away. At times during the removal of the wreckage, one lane of slow travel was allowed.
"These high speeds — we're pretty lucky no one else was injured," Lt. Scott said.
The Dan Marcotte AirShows Facebook page identified Marcotte as the operator. He's an experienced stunt pilot who performs aerobatic tricks at events such as the Independence Day celebration on the Burlington waterfront.
A loved one wrote on the Facebook page that the performer is doing okay, explaining Marcotte was practicing when he had to jump. "Thank God for our STRONG parachute!" the page administrator wrote.
"He was very upset, emotionally upset," Lt. Scott said of Marcotte. "But no real significant injuries. He was able to walk, he came back to the scene, and talked to investigators."
Scott said the Federal Aviation Administration will look into what went wrong. Police and a towing service gathered as much of the wreckage as they could find.
Mike Cota of Cota's Towing in Swanton said this was not the first towing job of its kind for him. "We have about one a year or so — somebody goes down up here," he said.
The Facebook page for Dan Marcotte AirShows was lighting up with well wishes Friday afternoon from fans very glad their friend had lived through the accident, likely still with more thrill-seeking left in him.