Plane clips truck, crashes at Ohio airport

FREMONT - A fixed-engine Piper airplane clipped the top of a 53-foot-long semi trailer on Ohio 53 and skidded to a safe landing in the grassy strip by the Fremont Airport's main runway Tuesday.

There were no injuries in the crash. A tire from the plane's landing gear broke off and stuck to the top of trailer, with the plane otherwise intact as came to a stop just past the airport's terminal building.

Russell Street, a driver for South Shore Transportation Co., said he was driving north on Ohio 53 and heading to Port Clinton when he went past the airport around 4 p.m.

"I saw a shadow up there. And it damn near knocked it over,"  Street said, smiling, but shaken, as he sat on the steps to his truck cab on an airport entry road, adding, "I didn't know what it was."

John Randall, 71, of Fremont was the plane's pilot, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Trooper Stephen Vanderford said Randall came in too low as he approached the airport and hit the top of the trailer.

Skid marks extended more than 100 feet through the grass by the airport's runway, as troopers interviewed Randall near the disabled plane.

Rex Dasmchroder, the airport's owner and operator, said the last "crash" at the airport involved a car ramming into a fence a few days ago. He said he was glad no one was injured in Tuesday's crash.

"We've never had this happen before where a plane hit a car," Damschroder said.

Damschroder said he wasn't sure what happened, but thought the pilot may have hit a downdraft upon his approach to the airport.

The airport will cordon off the plane — a multi-engine 1978 Piper PA-23-250, according to whoseplane.com — and leave it in the grass for the next day or two, Damschroder said.

"It's in no area of any hazard," he said.

Damschroder said he didn't know whether the Federal Aviation Administration would investigate the crash, since there were no injuries involved.

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