Five Small Planes Have Crashed in CT Since January

July 11, 2022

Jul. 10—The recent rash of small-plane crashes across Connecticut has caught the attention of media and investigators. But an examination of federal data and interviews with experts show the numbers are in line with other years, especially for this time of year.

Five small planes have crashed in Connecticut since the start of 2022, four since May 31. Data from the National Transportation Safety Board shows it's right around the typical amount.

From Jan. 1, 2021 to July 7, 2021, two small planes crashed in Connecticut. In 2020 during that same time period, one person had crashed. In 2019, there were five crashes in that time period.

Mike Safranek, airport administrator at Danbury Municipal Airport, said the three crashes since May 31 makes sense considering that a higher volume of small plane trips take place during the summer months.

"More people are flying, it's warmer," Safranek said. "Not to be flippant but there are more boating accidents in the summer versus the winter. There just happens to be more airplanes flying this time of year."

The three crashes in Connecticut in five weeks are a coincidence and not part of a pattern, according to Peter Knudson, spokesperson for the NTSB. The NTSB reports about 1,200 aviation accidents each year nationwide. The vast majority are general aviation, meaning not commercial.

Safranek also pointed out that more students take flying lessons in the summer months, which could also result in more crashes nationwide.

Plane crashes may seem to be happening more frequently, but Brad Griswold, airport administrator at the Simsbury Airport, said that's a result of news stories about plane crashes being more memorable than car crash stories that happen regularly.

"Even if you were to look at only the town of Simsbury, there have been two fatal car crashes in the town of Simsbury and literally hundreds involving injuries," Griswold said.

The last fatal plane crash in Simsbury was March 1991.

"The idea of a plane having an accident — because it is so uncommon and there are fewer people who are pilots, it seems so much more dramatic to the outside person looking in," Griswold said.

Crashes so far this year

On June 30, a small plane crashed into the Quinnipiac River in New Haven after the pilot had engine trouble.

On March 10, a pilot practicing wheel landings in Plainville lost control of the plane on the ground, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage and right wing, according to the NTSB final report.

The more recent crashes are still under investigation, but NTSB has some preliminary findings. On May 31, a pilot coming from Farmingdale, New York, attempting to land at the Simsbury Airport overshot the landing and crashed in a nearby farm before leaving the scene in another friend's plane. The report lists aircraft damage to be "substantial" but notes there was no fire or explosion associated with the crash.

A plane that was used for skydiving, crashed in Ellington on June 4, resulting in substantial damage to the plane. There are no other updates in the report at this time.

Last week, a plane crashed in Plymouth. The NTSB has not filed a report for this on the website yet but the pilot suffered minor injuries according to local reports. This is the same location where a plane crashed in 2016.

A focus on safety

Griswold said that pilots, in general, tend to be a safety-focused group. He said that once a month a group of pilots will gather in Simsbury to discuss safe flying practices. Sometimes the pilots will review a recent accident or how they would handle a particularly challenging meteorological condition.

"I would challenge anyone to name a group of car motorists outside of racing drivers who get together on a regular basis to discuss how to operate their vehicle more safely," Griswold said.

A saying among pilots is "There are bold pilots, there are old pilots, but there are no old bold pilots," according to Griswold.

"It's something that we love; we are not doing it professionally," Griswold said. "Because it might not be of wider interest, we need to be extra careful and cognizant of how our actions reflect on the rest of the aviation community."

Practicing maneuvers and reviewing safety recommendations is the key to avoiding accidents, Safranek said.

Griswold recommended that people interested in flying should not be deterred by news about plane crashes. His suggestion is to contact a local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association or another aviation education organization. Organizations like these often hold events at airports like Simsbury Airport where people can try flying in a safe environment.

"Swing by an airport, talk to a pilot," Griswold said. "They would love to tell you how amazing flying is."

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