Authorities were on-scene near the Mansfield Municipal Airport Sunday afternoon after responding to a small airplane crash involving a student pilot and an instructor.
Mansfield Police received a call at 1:18 p.m. Sunday reporting that a 1968 Cessna 150H airplane had endured an emergency crash landing into a tree near the Mansfield Animal Shelter in the area of Fruit Street.
The plane, which came out of an airfield in Marshfield, lost power during takeoff. A student pilot and instructor, both males, were doing what is referred to as "touch and go" landings, which involves landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop.
“They lost power on the takeoff. They were too far down the runway to abort the takeoff, so they did take off and did not have enough power to maintain forward air speed so they set it down. Pancaked it," Mansfield Police Chief Arthur O'Neill said Sunday.
The instructor took over operation of the airplane and crash landed it into a tree, using a practice called "pancaking." The plane was badly damaged and became stuck in a tree about 30-35 feet in the air. The two climbed out of the cockpit and climbed down the tree to safety.
“The instructor knew that they had a problem and he just called out that he was taking the controls and used his experience and made a safe, all things considered, crash landing,” O'Neill said. “He did save their lives. We had a crash here a few years ago where two people were killed where had someone been at the controls that knew how to do that they wouldn't have crashed the way they did. So it was that knowledge and experience that saved them.”
Mansfield Fire Chief Neal Boldrighini said, “On arrival the two victims were actually down on the ground. We did an evaluation on them medically, they signed off, there was no real injury there were just some scrapes and bruises.”
The Massachusetts Aeronautics Division and State Police were on-scene investigating the crash.
“We do have an active fuel leak at this time and have been from the start. We've applied foam to the ground to keep the vapors down and we're looking at approximately 20 gallons of fuel that in the end will come out of this plane,” Boldrighini said. “We're maintaining a presence until we can figure out how to get [the plane] down. We're working with the aeronautics people and the airport to make that happen and make it safe.”