Pilot dies in crash

Published 10:31 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

WAKEFIELD—The pilot of a home-built plane was killed when the aircraft crashed at Wakefield Municipal Airport on Friday afternoon.

Eighty-year-old Herbert Rutter of Hollidaysburg, Pa., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Airport Manager Randy Johnson said the crash occurred at about 3 p.m. as the two-seater plane, a Rutan Experimental Long-EZ, was attempting to land. He said the plane took off from Pennsylvania.

“Only the pilot was on board, and he was killed while attempting a landing at Wakefield,” Johnson said.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Earnest Poole said the plane was registered in Pennsylvania. He declined to comment on the cause of the crash, noting that investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were en route to the crash site.

“We don’t want to speculate on how the plane came down,” he said. “At this time, the entire plane crash is under investigation.”

The crash site was at the northern end of the runway. A point of impact was visible in a cornfield, and debris was strewn across Old Wakefield Road, north of the runway. Large sections of the aircraft came to rest in a ditch along the western edge of the runway. A debris field littered the grass just before the edge of the runway.

Johnson didn’t know if the pilot radioed the airport before the crash to report mechanical difficulties. Weather conditions at the airport at the time of the crash were clear with unrestricted visibility and light winds.