Pilot Uninjured After Crop Duster Plane Catches Fire

Pilot Uninjured After Crop Duster Plane Catches Fire
Photo by Campos Media

BERLIN — A small plane crashed into a corn field and burst into flames last Sunday afternoon, continuing an unusual spate of aviation accidents in the resort area this summer.

Around 2:40 p.m. on Sunday, Maryland State Police troopers from the Berlin barrack received notification of a plane crash in a corn field off Tall Timber Road near Makin Lane in Berlin. When MSP troopers and other first-responders arrived on scene, the 1976 Grumman crop duster was fully engulfed in flames.

The pilot and aircraft owner Robert Bunting, 62, of Berlin told police the plane experienced engine trouble and he landed it in the field. Bunting, whose family owns and operates Ocean Aerials, which also flies the advertising banner planes over the resort area. Bunting was checked by EMTs from the Berlin Fire Department on the scene and was released. No injuries were reported on the ground as a result of the crash.

The Berlin Fire Department worked to extinguish the fire. The plane was not carrying any chemicals on board at the time of the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also assisted at the scene and the incident remained under investigation.

The plane crash in a corn field in Berlin continued a spate of aviation incidents this summer.

Shortly after noon on July 19, an experimental, amateur-built Vans RV-7A took off from the Ocean City Airport bound for Manassas, Va., according to the flight plan filed for the aircraft. The unidentified pilot performed a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft and an engine run-up with no anomalies reported. The pilot then taxied the aircraft onto runway 20 and applied full power as he took off. However, with the plane about 500 feet off the ground, the engine experienced a partial loss of power.

The pilot landed the plane “hard” about 1,000 feet from the end of the runway and continued for about another 150 feet into the grass where it “nosed over” and came to rest inverted, which resulted in substantial damage to the rudder. The pilot sustained minor injuries and was transported to the hospital.

Around 6:15 p.m. on July 16, a single-engine 1981 Cessna 172 RG crashed into the ocean about a quarter mile from shore at 21st Street. The pilot and lone occupant was able to get out of the aircraft and was not seriously injured. He was assessed at the scene by Ocean City EMS immediately following the crash and it was determined he did not need to be transported to the hospital.

The flight originated at the Reedville Airport in Reedville, Va. and its stated purpose was an aerial survey. According to the National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report, the purpose of the flight was to spot fish in support of a commercial fishing operation.

At 3,000 feet above the water and eight miles offshore, the engine began to shake and lose RPMs.,” the report reads. When it became evident the pilot was unable to reach the airport, he ditched the airplane in the shallow waters of the ocean surf to avoid bystanders on the beach. A video of the crash shows the plane maintaining a horizontal position as it glided into the ocean before nose-diving into the water. The plane suffered extensive damage to the right elevator, according to the report. However, it was essentially destroyed when it was pulled from the ocean.