WADSWORTH — A Litchfield man escaped injury after his single-engine plane crashed this morning near Wadsworth Municipal Airport.
Roger Keene was flying from Reader-Botsford Airport in Wellington and was making his final approach to Wadsworth Municipal Airport around 11:45 a.m. today when the power went out on his plane. He was looking for a safe place to land and ended up putting the plane down in the backyard of a home on Concord Place near Route 57 in Wadsworth.
Keene clipped some trees on his descent, slowing him down enough that he didn’t hit a nearby gazebo, coming to rest instead alongside it.
“Had I hit that, I would have been quite dead,” Keene said after the accident. “The engine would have been pushed back into the passenger compartment, and that would have been the end of me.”
Keene, a Ford Motor Co. retiree who served, but didn’t fly, in the Vietnam War, took up flying as a hobby, and will probably retire from that now, he said.
“This will be it for me,” he said.
Keene took off from Wellington at about 11:20 a.m. because the new owners of Reader-Botsford Airport recently told pilots who kept their planes there that the airport would close.
The property will instead be used for agricultural purposes, said Ken Bartlett, who lives in a home on the airport property he leases from the current owner.
“They informed the pilots who kept planes in the hangar of the decision to close the airport,” Bartlett said. “They told everyone they needed to have their planes off the property.”
The pilot was the last to move his plane from the property, which is what he was trying to do Thursday, Bartlett said. The pilot had previously tried to move it a few weeks ago, but issues with the plane may have caused him the delay in those plans, Bartlett said.
Bartlett said he didn’t know what kind of issues the plane was having, and it said it may have been something as simple as a battery needed charged.
Keene’s plane is totaled. The Ohio Highway Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration are on the scene investigating the crash.