A small airplane with two people on board crashed near the American Legion Post on Hanover Road in Meriden Saturday, according to Meriden Police and the FAA.
The plane, a Piper PA-28, crashed around 4 p.m. The pilot and the passenger were rushed to the hospital and are expected to be OK.
“He was coming in low," said Pat Charron, of Meriden, who was there when the crash happened. "I was telling my girlfriend. She was with me. The guy is too low to be coming in."
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Police have identified the two people who were in the plane as Philip F. Cianciolo and Beverly Weintraub. According to FAA records, the aircraft owned by Cianciolo and Weintraub was built in 1967.
The FAA has been on scene documenting the damage before the wreckage was towed away just before 5 p.m. on Monday.
While the NTSB will determine a probable cause, a 911 call from an employee at Meriden-Markham Airport offers some insight into why the plane may have unexpectedly gone down.
“I’m calling from Meriden-Markham Airport,” the caller told dispatch. “I don’t have an emergency yet but I do have an inbound aircraft that is out of fuel. He’s trying to make the airport right now. He’s currently four miles north of the airport, inbound to land.”
People in the nearby American Legion ran out to help after the crash.
“As I was going out back I saw the lady getting out of the plane,” said American Legion member Don O’Byrne. “She started to walk over to sit down then started crawling. I went right for the plane, the pilot, the gentleman he was laying on the wing.”
Amazingly, the plane did not hit a nearby power grid, playground or the American Legion Building and its pavilion out back.
Just six months ago in July, Cianciolo survived a similar small plane crash in a Virginia cornfield. Virginia State Police said he ran out of fuel while flying from North Carolina to Connecticut.
O’Byrne told NBC Connecticut he’s amazed Cianciolo and Weintraub walked away without serious injuries from Saturday afternoon’s crash.
“I was surprised they weren’t hurt worse,” he said, “the plane came in really slow didn’t really make any noise.”
NBC Connecticut knocked on the door at Cianciolo’s listed address in Wallingford, but he was not home.