Plane found in trees week after crash

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Mystery plane: Residents of 167 Gray Road reported finding this small plane stranded in some trees on the border of their property on June 21. A Guilderland Police investigation determined the plane had actually crashed there a week prior, and that the pilot, Fred Jackson, had walked away and left the accident unreported.

GUILDERLAND — Eugene DiCerbo was surprised to discover a plane in his hedgerow when he headed out to his barn to get his tractor last Saturday morning.

DiCerbo’s wife, Nancy, said her husband spotted something yellow in the tree line, and assumed it was contractor’s equipment from the vacant lot next door to their property. As he got closer, he realized it was a small airplane.

“Our daughter, who was with him, came running back to the house and told me there was a plane crash,” said Mrs. DiCerbo. “I called 9-1-1.”

She said the family, who lives at 167 Gray Road, is used to hearing the noises of planes overhead, because there is a landing strip at 125 Gray Road.

While the DiCerbos waited for police to arrive, neighbors gathered, and Mr. DiCerbo hoisted someone up in the bucket of his tractor to look inside the plane. There was no one in it.

“Then we wondered if someone had fallen out of the plane when it crashed and we were looking for blood,” said Mrs. DiCerbo.

She said that, when the police arrived, at approximately 11:51 a.m. on June 21, they expressed concerns over whether the plane was stolen or had been used to carry drugs.

“We used the tail number on the plane to track down the pilot,” said Captain Curtis Cox of the Guilderland Police Department.

The police discovered that the plane — a yellow, 1949 Piper Clipper — belonged to Fred Jackson, 75, of Niskayuna, who had crashed it a full week before the DiCerbos found it.

Jackson told police that he had been flying from Hamilton to the landing strip on Gray Road, on June 14, when the plane experienced some sort of engine or mechanical failure and he missed the runway, according to a release from the Guilderland Police Department.

Jackson was the only occupant of the plane and wasn’t injured, and he walked away from the incident without reporting it to anyone.

The Guilderland Police Department reported the crash to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is currently conducting an investigation; Guilderland Police are not filing any charges.

Mrs. DiCerbo said Jackson came to the house to apologize for leaving the plane on the property.

“He is a very nice gentleman,” she said. “Honestly, if he had just come to us in the first place, we would have asked him to remove the plane, and not involved the police.”

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