Three walk away from Liberty plane crash
LIBERTY — A pilot averted catastrophe Saturday, crash landing his plane in a wooded area just north of Lansdowne Airport without injuring himself or two family members.
“I’m both happy and sad,” pilot Christopher T. Tornello of Liberty said less than two hours after the crash. “I’m sad about the plane and happy no one got a scratch on them. I’ve never had this happen before.”
Tornello, 65, has had his pilot’s license since 1981, according to his wife, Roberta Tornello, who also is a pilot. She had a headache and decided to visit a friend instead of going on the flight with her daughter, Melissa Fike of Cortland, and her 8-year-old granddaughter, Ida Kay Fike.
Roberta Tornello said her husband was going in for a downwind landing at Lansdowne Airport, 2008 Lansdowne Blvd., about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when the engine of the Cessna 172G began to sputter.
“He was only 500, 600 feet above ground,” she said. “That’s the worst time for the engine to go out. There’s not enough speed or height to get it to the runway.”
The aircraft crashed into a wooded area just north of Homestead Road. From photos provided by Tornello’s wife and those posted by Fike on social media, the plane was suspended in the trees and had visible exterior damage.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol in Southington said the accident is under investigation.
The aircraft just had its annual inspection, Roberta Tornello said, and no issues were detected at the time. This was the plane’s second flight since the inspection.
Her daughter took video on her phone of her father landing the plane in the trees and immediately called her mother.
“She said they were OK physically,” Roberta Tornello said. “Mentally might take a little time.”
Christopher Tornello said, “I did what I was trained to do. I thank God it was enough to keep everyone safe. It’s the happiest ending in that way.”