NOAH K. MURRAY/THE STAR-LEDGER
A plane crash at Monmouth Executive Airport in New Jersey today killed five people. Members of the Wall Township rescue squad set up lights at the scene of a fatal plane crash at Monmouth Executive Airport.
By Star-Ledger Staff
WALL TOWNSHIP -- Five people were killed today in a plane crash at Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall Township when a Cessna 337 Skymaster broke apart near the runway during a low pass and spun out of control before crashing nose first, officials said.
The wreckage was spread across a wide, partially snow-covered debris field that initially hampered the investigation to locate all five of those on board the plane when it crashed shortly before 4 p.m. But by 7:30 p.m., Alison Duquette, spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board said five victims were confirmed.
Capt. Tim Clayton of the Wall Township police says three men, a teenager and a younger child were killed in the crash this afternoon at Monmouth Executive Airport. At least three of the victims were related.
Two of the victims were from New Jersey, three were from elsewhere. Their names were not immediately released.
"My understanding is the plane was flying out of here on its way to New York for sightseeing," Clayton said. He did not know if it was a commercial sightseeing flight.
Witnesses who had been sledding on a hill at the airport said the plane came across the airport low and fast with the landing gear retracted. Wayne Matichuk, 43, of Wall Township, who was among the group sledding, said the plane suddenly pulled up near the runway and a chunk of the plane broke away.
Tthe piece was 6-to-8 feet long, about 3-feet wide, and appeared to be part of the twin tail section of the plane, a Cessna 337 Skymaster.
Matichuk said the plane went upside down before crashing 300 feet from the runway.
"It was so surreal. after it happened, every one of us turned around and said, 'did that really just happen?" said Matichuk.
Matt Giarratano, a chef at Runway 34 restaurant, which is located just off the grounds of airport, said he saw the plane approach the airport, heading south. Then, he witnessed it crash.
"I saw it coming in fast, and saw it pop back up. It popped back up, then I just didn't see it," he said. "It broke apart. It basically became like a cloud of nothing."
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Cessna 337 Skymaster is known in aviation circles as a "Push Me, Pull You" because its twin engines are located in the nose and behind the fuselage.
It was registered to Jack Air LLC, a Wilmington, Del., company. A telephone listing for the company was not immediately available. The FAA registry for the aircraft lists the manufacture date as 1973.