Hilltown, PA Small Plane And Glider Crash, Oct 1993


Hilltown, PA. - (AP) - A small plane and a glider collided Saturday over Bucks County, killing three people, authorities said.
The pilot of the small single-engine plane was killed, along with two men in the glider. Though the crash happened within several hundred yards of homes and a crowded softball diamond, there were no other injuries, said Deputy Chief Shawn Shade of the Hilltown Township Fire Department.
The plane crashed in a front yard at Hilltown Pike and Callowhill Road about 30 miles north of Philadelphia.
The glider crashed in a back yard next to a crowded athletic field where 12-to-14 year olds were playing softball.
Police said the plane was towing a glider about 1:34 p.m. when the glider's pilot saw a second, unattached glider heading toward the plane. The first glider pilot detached his craft, flying it to the nearby Philadelphia Glider Club. The plane and the second glider then collided, said Hilltown Township Police Chief Kerry Trauger.
Carrie Harley, 13, was outside doing chores when she saw the plane and glider touch wings. The glider crashed, nose-first, in her back yard about 50 feet away.
"I heard this loud rush of wind. I told me mom to watch out," Ms. Harley said.
The plane went down a short distance away, hitting a tree and splitting in half.
Miss Harley's mother, Dana Harley, said several boys who had been playing softball at the nearby Deep Run Valley Sports Association were the first on the scene but could do nothing to save the pilot.
Charles Vogel, whose property is near the softball field, said some of the boys ran toward his house and others ran through a patch of weeds to the crash scene. Vogel, who was in his garage when he heard the crashing boom that shook his house, also ran to the scene.
"I never heard anything like it before," he said. "When I looked outside, there was nothing I could do for him."
A member of the Philadelphia Glider Club who declined to give his name said the single-engine Cessna had been pulling a Grob 103 glider from the club's private Hilltown airstrip.
He said he knew the people involved but would not disclose their names or say how many were on board.
Each plane could carry a pilot and a passenger, he said.
"I can't even begin to speculate," how this happened, he said.
He said gliders and planes tethered together typically detach "a couple of thousand feet" high, but it was unclear how high the planes were when the crash occurred. The crash site was about a mile from the club.
About 50 police, fire and rescue personnel were on the scene, and the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were contacted, Shade said.
Alicia Bacon, 15, was working at the Hilltown County Store when she heard the plane overhead. Moments later.
"We heard a crash; it was pretty loud," Bacon said.
Jim Backlund, owner of the nearby Hilltown Inn, said a number of ambulances and emergency vehicles rushed past his business shortly after the collision.
"We lost power for three or four seconds. We thought someone hit a pole," Backlund said. "One of our customers called in and said it just missed her house."

Indiana Gazette Pennsylvania 1993-10-09