BERLIN — Engine failure was to blame for a small plane crash in a cornfield near Berlin last September, according to a preliminary report released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
According to the NTSB report, the Grumman G-164 aircraft piloted by Robert Bunting, Jr., 62, of Berlin, left Bunting’s Field airport around 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 8. The plane, operated by Bunting’s Dustings, Inc., was scheduled to complete a routine agricultural seeding operation.
The pilot was departing for the first flight of the day to conduct aerial seeding with about 2,000 pounds of wheat seeds on board. The pilot told NTSB investigators just after liftoff, he noticed the engine began to vibrate, but the revolutions per minute (RPM) seemed normal.
When the pilot made a right turn, the engine “quit,” according to the NTSB report. The pilot told investigators the plane was too low to attempt a restart, so he elected to make a forced landing in a cornfield. During the landing, the plane nosed over in the cornfield and a post-crash fire ensued.
The pilot escaped injury and exited the airplane before contacting local authorities. An examination by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the airplane came to rest inverted in a cornfield. The plane’s fuselage and both upper and lower wings were buckled.
An examination of the cockpit, firewall and engine accessories revealed they were fire-damaged. According to the NTSB, day visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the forced landing and no flight plan was filed.