July 15, 2008

Small Plane Crash-Lands on South Jersey Yard

By Sam Wood and Dan Lieberman, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jul. 15--A 70-year-old pilot and his 67-year-old passenger escaped serious injury when their small plane ran out of fuel and crashed onto the front lawn of a house in South Jersey Sunday night, police said.

Ronald C. Miller of Cinnaminson was flying his ultralight aircraft back to the Flying W Airport Resort in Medford after spending the day at the Shore.

Miller glanced at his fuel gauge at 7:30 and noticed it was half-full. But minutes later, it dropped to quarter tank. Then nothing, he told his rescuers.

Miller, a pilot for 45 years, tried to glide to the nearest landing strip, the Camden County Airport in Berlin, but didn't have the altitude to reach it.

Less than 600 yards from the airport, the homebuilt experimental aircraft crashed through trees, ripped through telephone wires, and lost a wing before coming to a very bumpy landing on a front lawn in the 700 block of Watsontown-New Freedom Road in Winslow Township, police said.

"I heard an awful noise and then a bang," said Florence Craig, who was surprised her property became a temporary landing strip. "He tried to land in the field out back, but he hit the maple tree at the corner and it sheared his wing."

Nurse Patty Craig, who lives behind her mother-in-law's house, was startled by the commotion and rushed to her window.

"I said, 'Oh my God! There's a plane on the lawn.' So I quick ran out, I see this sweet lady trying to get out of the plane," Patty Craig said yesterday. "I grabbed her arm and sat her down in a lawn chair."

The woman, passenger Lenora Layton, had been scraped


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