National Transportation Safety Board investigators on Saturday arrived in New Milford to begin the investigation into a plane crash that left a flight instructor dead and a student and passenger seriously injured.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration said a Cessna C-172 that left Danbury Municipal Airport crashed at the end of runway 17-35 at Candlelight Farms Airport in New Milford at 9:47 a.m. on Friday.
Arrow Aviation in Danbury owns the plane and has declined to comment.
The NTSB and FAA have begun their investigation into the crash.
“The airplane, as far as we know, had been airborne for about an hour at the time of the accident,” said Ralph Hicks, a Senior Air Safety Investigator with the NTSB.
Officials said a 17-year-old student sat in the front seat, flying the plane with her instructor, while a relative, sat in the back. A 57-year-old flight instructor, Anthony Morasco of New Milford, perished in the plane crash. He was a flight instructor at Arrow Aviation in Danbury, according to his obituary.
The teen is now listed in fair condition, up from critical. Her relative, 44-year-old Peter Jellen, has been released from the hospital.
Police said Jellen walked hundreds of yards from the site of the crash to ask a stranger for help.
“I’m at Border Lane and Hubbell Mountain Road in New Milford. We have a man here with a head injury. He thinks he was in a plane crash, but I don’t see any planes,” the caller can be heard saying on the 911 recording.
The runway at Candlelight Farms Airport reopened today, as federal investigators documented the compact debris field.
“All of the major structural components of the airplane have been located,” Hicks told media on Saturday.
Federal agents said Saturday morning that they planned to be on scene investigating until dusk and then they expect to remove the plane Sunday at noon. The plane will be taken to Delaware where they’ll do a mechanical inspection.
New Milford Police said it could be months before they have answers.
“There’s no eyewitness accounts to this crash. No one in the area saw it and the only accounts we have are from the survivors,” said Sgt. Lee Grabner of the New Milford Police Department.
They also have a handheld GPS.
“Generally if they’re turned on they collect data from the flight. So, we’re optimistic that we may have the actual flight captured,” Hicks said.
Hicks explained that the airport didn’t have a tower to monitor the flights, so there is no information from that.
“It’s an uncontrolled field which means there’s no tower to talk to so pilots are on their own to clear from other airplanes,” he said.
Investigators are still waiting for what may turn out to be the most important piece of evidence - the accounts of the two survivors, who have yet to be interviewed.