Planes clip wings in midair near Republic

Two single-engine planes landed safely after "bumping" each other about five miles outside Republic Airport in Farmingdale early yesterday evening, officials said, causing no injuries but dropping a small piece of debris in Dix Hills.

It was around 6:15 p.m. that a Piper Saratoga and a Cessna 152 collided, said airport director Michael Geiger. The Saratoga lost about 8 to 12 inches off the tip of its wing, said Gary Lewi, an airport spokesman who characterized the collision as a midair bump. A fuel tank inside that wing was punctured, Lewi said.

The damaged section of the Saratoga's wing is called the aileron, which helps the plane turn, Geiger said.

The Saratoga was registered to Sidhu Karmendra of Locust Valley, who said he was the pilot but declined to comment. The Cessna was registered to AADH Inc. of Wilmington, Del., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The pilot's name was not available.

The Cessna had damage to its windshield and wing, Lewi said.

One passenger was flying with Karmendra in the Saratoga, Geiger said, and the Cessna pilot did not have any passengers.

Both planes took off earlier in the day from Republic, where they are based, and were headed back there when the bump occurred, Lewi said.

Lewi said Karmendra reported he was "totally in control all the way" back to the airport, where emergency crews met the flights and sprayed foam on some leaked fuel from the Saratoga.

The airport's operations were not shut down as both planes landed on one of Republic's two runways, Lewi said.

Dix Hills Fire Chief Larry Feld said a 4- or 5-pound landing light was found in the front yard of a home still under construction in the Stoneridge Estates development. No injuries were reported there, he said, and authorities were searching for other aircraft debris.

Geiger said he was unsure whether either pilot had been in contact with the control tower at the airport.

Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said both planes were flying under "visual flight rules," which means pilots rely primarily on their sight when flying and are not required to file flight plans.

Salac said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the collision.


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