MANSFIELD - Two Maine men were killed and two other men were injured yesterday morning after a single-engine plane plummeted to the ground at Mansfield Municipal Airport, according to authorities.
The dead men are pilot Lawrence Mann and passenger Cabot Squire, both from Portland, Maine, Mansfield police said in a statement.
A woman who answered the phone at the home of Squire's parents in Westport said the family did not wish to comment. The injured were Jared Lamey of Saco, Maine, and Matthew Kramer of Mansfield.
Kramer, who is in critical condition, is related by marriage to the dead pilot. Mann's sister, Samantha, married Kramer in June 2005 after a three-year courtship, according to Herald clips. The couple met at Boston University, where both worked in technology. Mann was his sister's ``man of honor'' at the couple's wedding. The couple still work at BU where, the crash has saddened the campus.
"It's a terrible tragedy and so much for anyone to deal with and the university community certainly supports the family through this and hopes for the best possible outcome," said Boston University spokesman Colin Riley. "Our hearts go out to all the families."
Kramer is in critical condition at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Lamey is in serious condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
All on the plane were in their 30s, according to police.
The Mansfield Fire Department extracted the four men from the plane, which spilled fuel when it crashed. Mann and Squire were pronounced dead at the scene.
Chief Arthur O'Neill of the Mansfield Police Department said a 911 call came in at 10:42 a.m., shortly after the Cessna 172 Skyhawk took off into the clear sky. FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the plane declared a mayday seconds before it crashed.
"(The pilot) was having trouble climbing to higher altitude," Peters said. "He turned back to land at Mansfield airport and apparently stalled the aircraft. It just went into the ground after that."
The plane crashed on a rocky ledge on the airport's northwest side, authorities said.
Golf bags and clubs were strewn amid the wreckage at the crash site, which borders Interstate 495.
Mike Vidal, president of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 701 in Mansfield, said he watched the white-and-blue Cessna plunge about 200 yards from where he stood.
"It was having a hard time climbing, pretty much kind of made a hard turn, then went into the ground," he said.
Vidal said it appears the plane stalled, an aviation term meaning the plane either climbed too steeply or lost the speed needed to keep it aloft.
"The engine seemed to be running OK," he said.
The crash happened during an annual "fly-in," an event which showcases antique and experimental aircraft and is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association. The doomed plane was not involved in the fly-in.
The airport was closed and the fly-in canceled after the crash.
The plane's owner, Nathan Humphrey, who runs Twin Cities Air Service in Auburn, Maine, said two of the men rented the Cessna yesterday morning. He declined to identify them.
Peters said they flew from a Maine airport and arrived at Mansfield, where they took on their passengers.
Humphrey said the plane was serviced within the last 100 hours as required by the FAA. He said the pilot was certified to fly the Skyhawk under visual flight rules, but did not have the more rigorous training that would have qualified him to fly under instrument flight rules.
According to the Web site FlightAware.com, the Skyhawk that crashed yesterday was flown at least four times in August and three times in July. Nearly all of those flights were local hops lasting less than an hour.
The town of Mansfield owns the small airport where the fatal crash occurred, said Carl Lambrecht, chairman of the airport commission. About 125 mostly single-engine aircraft are based on the airport's field.
"It's a small community airport," Lambrecht said. "We don't get a lot of traffic. Most of the pilots are friends with one another. We've been very good in terms of the safety record."