Preliminary Report Indicates Plane Lost Power Before Golf Course Landing

Preliminary Report Indicates Plane Lost Power Before Golf Course Landing
The single-engine Beech 35 airplane is pictured on the fairway of the eighth hole at Assateague Greens golf course on Route 611. Photo by John Whaley

BERLIN — The small plane that made an emergency landing on a West Ocean City golf course late last month lost all engine power during an attempt to return to the nearby Ocean City Municipal Airport, according to the preliminary National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report released this week.

Around 9:20 a.m. on June 29, a single-engine Beech 35 airplane took off from the Ocean City Municipal Airport in West Ocean City and ultimately was forced to turn back and make an effort to return to the airport when it experienced engine trouble, according to the NTSB preliminary report. The ill-fated flight, which included pilot Guerrino Mascelli and his wife Mary Mascelli, both 60 of Berlin, was bound for a fuel stop in Dublin, Va. before continuing on to its final destination in Tullahoma, Tenn.

Instead, the small plane was forced to crash land on the Assateague Greens golf course adjacent to the airport. There was a small engine fire after the crash landing on the eight fairway and an early morning golfer on an adjacent green was the first on the scene and pulled the injured occupants from the wreckage before first-responders arrived. According to the NTSB report, the pilot suffered serious injuries, while the female passenger sustained minor injuries.

There were no significant weather issues on the morning of the crash with light winds, clear skies and visibility around 10 miles. According to the NTSB report, the pilot stated he was instructed to climb to 3,000 feet, but the airplane had difficulty climbing.

The pilot made an emergency call that he was returning to the airport. However, the airplane was unable to fly to the runway and the pilot had to perform a forced landing on the golf course. According to the NTSB report, the pilot told first-responders the engine lost all power prior to the forced landing.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the crashed plane where it came to rest on the golf course about one-third of a mile from the airport. The inspector reported damage to the left wing and the engine was partially separated from the airplane’s frame. Perhaps more importantly, the plane’s landing gear was in the retracted position, meaning the pilot was attempting to belly-flop the aircraft on the golf course.

The four-seat, low-wing, retractable gear-equipped airplane was manufactured in 1963. The pilot held a private pilot certificate with rating for a single-engine land and instrument panel airplane. The pilot’s most recent FAA third-class airman medical certificate was issued last September with the only limitation “must where corrective lenses.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.