HOPEWELL — A Bloomfield man who flipped his airplane while landing the craft in a snow-covered field in Hopewell walked away from the crash unharmed.
Pilot Douglas Turnbull, 53, was alone in the 1946 Piper, PA 12 aircraft when the incident unfolded shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.
Sgt. Dave Cirencione, of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, detailed the incident shortly after the crash, noting that the pilot took off alone from the Canandaigua Airport and targeted a field at 3719 Routes 5 and 20 for a landing spot.
The field, which has a snowmobile path tracing through it, is covered with snow, which at some points was as much as two feet deep.
“He was traveling from south to north on the ground when, with the combination of the soft snow and the wind, flipped the plane,” Cirencione said while standing alongside Routes 5 and 20 as the plane rested upside-down in the field more than 100 yards away.
The snow had both caused the plane to flip and also provided a level of cushioning when it came crashing upside-down. Turnbull had been wearing his seatbelt and shoulder harnesses, according to the sheriff's office. He was checked over at the scene by Canandaigua Ambulance personnel but reported being uninjured and refused transport to a hospital.
Cirencione said Turnbull chose to land in the field because he knows people who live nearby and was intending to visit them.
The owner of the field was not the person he planned to visit.
Tim Wunder, the property owner, was working out in his barn when he noticed the small craft circling above his house a couple times. He didn’t think much of it and went about his business in the barn.
“Then I heard a thud, and I just thought it was ice coming off the roof,” Wunder said. “I came out and he was laying there upside down.”
Wunder said that he ran from the barn and out into the field to check on the welfare of the pilot. As he approached he found that the pilot had already exited the aircraft.
“He was shell-shocked, but he was alright,” Wunder said.
Wunder said he was baffled as to why the pilot made the decision to land the aircraft in his field, noting that he didn’t have permission to do so. He added that it was a questionable decision considering the snow’s depth.
When he saw the plane flipped over in the field, he said he assumed the pilot was attempting to initiate an emergency landing.
Cirencione said that members of the Federal Aviation Administration would further investigate the incident.
The Hopewell Fire Department assisted at the scene.