Photo of an Upshur County EMS ambulance at the scene of the downed plane, courtesy the Buckhannon Fire Department.

Witnesses heard plane engine making strange sounds before Feb. 18 crash in Upshur County

BUCKHANNON – The pilot flying the downed plane that crashed into a field between the Hall Road and Buckhannon River just before 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 had been traveling from Pittsburgh to Buckhannon when something went awry with the small aircraft, according to the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Virgil Miller said Wednesday the pilot had been en route to Buckhannon from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“I understand he left at about 4:45 p.m. from Pittsburgh, and he was flying to Buckhannon,” Miller told My Buckhannon Wednesday. “The pilot was from Morgantown.”

Miller said the sheriff’s office interviewed several residents who witnessed the crash.

“We interviewed some residents who were nearby after we located the plane, and they said they thought the plane was circling and the engine was making strange noises – cutting out and whining,” Miller said. “I don’t know if [the pilot] ran out of fuel or what the problem was.”

Miller said the small aircraft crashed into a field north of Weyerhaeuser.

“It hit the soft ground, and that just flipped it, so it was upside down laying in the field,” the sheriff said.

Miller did not disclose the pilot’s name but said he emerged from the small plane ostensibly uninjured. However, he subsequently went to St. Joseph’s Hospital about 20-30 minutes after emergency responders arrived on scene for a medical evaluation.

“The FAA got ahold of us yesterday (Tuesday), and they’re wanting statements from the witnesses,” Miller said. “They’re doing their investigation this week as to what happened.”

Jenny Powers, the new full-time manager at the Upshur Regional Airport, said she couldn’t provide any information because the aircraft didn’t depart from that location. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board would handle the investigation, she said.

“There’s not really any information that I have on that because we weren’t directly involved,” Powers said. “They did not fly out of here.”

An email sent to the FAA’s press address Wednesday did not receive a response.

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