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Plane crashes injure three

By Emily Hollingsworth and Jordan Miles

The Farmville Herald

Three people were injured in two separate plane crashes in Prince Edward and Buckingham counties Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The first incident was reported after 1 p.m. at 700 Moore Road west of Hampden Sydney on Monday afternoon, causing serious but non-life- threatening injuries to its pilot. The second came Tuesday shortly after 12:20 p.m. in the 100 block of Mountain View Lane off of Rock Mill Road near Enonville in Buckingham County.

In the Buckingham crash one person suffered life-threatening injuries while a passenger was treated on scene for his injuries.

Virginia State Police (VSP) spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the pilot in the Buckingham crash, Justin G. Knight, of Midlothian, was flown to U.Va. Hospital and was treated for life-threatening injuries.

“Knight’s 11-year-old son and only passenger suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene,” Geller said.

Knight serves as president and chief executive officer of Apple Hospitality REIT — a publicly-traded real estate investment trust that owns one of the largest portfolios of upscale, select-service hotels in the U.S. — according to a press release from the firm.

“We greatly appreciate the concern for Justin’s well-being and the outpouring of support following yesterday’s accident,” said Glade Knight, Justin’s father and executive chairman of Apple Hospitality. “We feel very fortunate that the injuries he sustained were not more serious, and we look forward to his full recovery.”

The crash occurred in a cornfield near a residence.

“An Aviat A-1C-180 aircraft stalled out causing it to crash land in a cornfield in the 100 block of Mountain View Lane,” Geller said. “The plane had taken off from a private landing strip on Alcoma Road in Buckingham County and was flying locally when the crash occurred.”

VSP is investigating the incident, according to a press release.

“The (Federal Aviation Administration, FAA) and (National Transportation Safety Board, (NTSB) have both been notified. The crash remains under investigation at this time,” Geller said.

“He made a couple approaches,” said Mike Palmore, who lives in the Enonville area and witnessed the plane go down. “He slowed down real slow (and) came in real slow … He made a couple approaches and slowed way down.”

Palmore said the plane “went back around and came around the third time,” flying very low. “I looked and I saw he had his full flaps down … and then I heard him touch down and he throttled back up, because I guess he saw where he wasn’t going to make it.”

Palmore said the plane throttled again and that’s when he heard “a crunch” sound.

“I thought it was trees,” he said.

“I came straight over here,” said Palmore, who assisted on the scene. He said it took about 20 minutes to find the downed plane.

Along with VSP, the Buckingham County Volunteer Rescue Squad responded to the crash, along with volunteers from Dillwyn and Toga fire departments.

In the Prince Edward crash, numerous volunteer fire departments, including Hampden-Sydney, Darlington Heights and Farmville, responded to the scene between Darlington Heights and Five Forks roads shortly after 1 p.m. Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad members also responded.

According to VSP, the sole occupant in the crash — Philip Cianciolo, of Wallingford, Connecticut — was taken by helicopter to MCV Medical Center.

“The Piper PA-15 ran out of fuel while in the air and was forced to make a crash landing into a cornfield at the intersection of Route 658 and Route 700. The impact of the crash caused the aircraft to catch fire,” Geller said.

Witnesses William Mottley and Holly Michael saw the smoke and flames from the fire as they passed through the area.

Mottley, of Darlington Heights, said he pulled over after seeing the conditions of the field after the crash.

“I was coming up the road, saw massive smoke and flames,” Mottley said. “I stopped to help.”

Michael saw a similar sight while driving along Five Forks Road and reaching the intersection.

“I saw a pile of black smoke,” said Michael, who went to help after seeing Mottley at the scene. “(I) saw (Mottley) standing on the side of the road.”

“Cianciolo was the plane’s only occupant. He was flying from North Carolina to Connecticut at the time of the crash,” Geller said.

The FAA and the NTSB were notified of the crash. Authorities say the aircraft crashed in a two-and-a-half-acre cornfield.

State Police are investigating both crashes.

For more on the Prince Edward crash, click here. For more on the Buckingham crash, click here.