BEVERLY — Two friends escaped injury after their single-engine airplane went off a runway, spun out on wet grass and then flipped over at Beverly Airport yesterday afternoon.
Officials said the accident occurred as pilot William Young of Medford landed the rented plane — a three-wheeled tail-dragger called a Citabria — on Runway 9-27 about 12:15 p.m. Young had just returned from a trip with passenger Ronnie Bornemann of Taunton.
“He said he went left when he touched down, and when he hit the right rudder to compensate, he veered across the runway to the grass, where it was wet from all the rain, and the plane flipped over on its back,” said Robert Mezzetti, airport manager.
The men were described as being in their 60s. Both were able to get out of the plane on their own after the crash.
“We lucked out on this one,” said Paul Vitale, chairman of the Beverly Airport Commission.
The airplane was damaged, with a bent propeller and a gouge to the side of the fuselage. It was later righted with a crane and towed to a repair station on the Danvers side of the airport.
The crash closed the airport for part of the afternoon, and the Federal Aviation Administration sent an investigator to the site.
Mezzetti said Young had a current pilot’s certificate.
Police, firefighters and ambulance personnel from multiple communities responded to the crash report, and spectators gathered to watch them work from the rear parking lot of Amphenol at 72 Cherry Hill Drive, which offers a clear view of the runway area.
“I don’t know how anybody would be getting out of that,” said Frank Wojick, who drove over after he heard the incident report over a police radio. “My head would be hurting right now, I think.”
Multiple people commented on how unusual it is for a plane to crash on a sunny day without much wind.
Rita Perry, an employee at Amphenol, said she had been inside doing assembly work when she noticed something was amiss. She opted to check it out during her lunch break.
“I just saw people getting up and looking outside,” Perry said. “We just saw the ambulances and fire trucks and stuff.”
Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River off Manhattan.
Paul Leighton contributed to this report.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at email@example.com.