Pilot dies in plane crash

and Bob Audette


WINCHESTER, N.H. — A pilot is dead after his plane went down below the tree line off Scotland Road just before noontime on Thursday.

Emergency personnel responded to Scotland Road just before 11:30 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about a possible plane crash in Mirey Brook Swamp, which straddles the state line between Winchester and Warwick, Mass.

Following an intensive search that ended around 5:40 p.m., searchers confirmed that the aircraft was down in the vicinity of Curtis Pond off of Warwick Road, also known as Route 78. They also confirmed the pilot of the aircraft was dead.

The first call to 911 came in around 11:20 a.m., after Kumaran Spaulding heard a strange noise in the air. Spaulding was walking in a field on his father's property on Scotland Road with his 13-year-old son, Darian, who was visiting from Indiana. Darian Spaulding said he heard the sound of an airplane engine, but it sounded like the engine was being throttled up and down. Then he and his father spotted the airplane pop out of the low-hanging clouds before it went over the tree line and disappeared from view.

While Kumaran Spaulding said he heard what appeared to be the sounds of a crash, Darian said, "Suddenly, the valley was very silent."

Emergency personnel from around the region — including members of the Winchester Fire Department and Winchester Police Department, the Walpole Fire Department, the Keene Fire Department, the New Hampshire State Police and New Hampshire Fish and Game — converged in a field on the Spaulding property shortly after the Spauldings called 911. At the same time, other witnesses were also making emergency calls.

Bradley Brewer was working in his barn on Manning Hill when he heard the same sounds Kumaran and Darian Spaulding described. "I heard an engine sputtering and I heard one whale of a thump right in line with the trees and nothing after that. It made the hair on my arms stand up."

Lt. Aaron Cooper, of the Keene Fire Department, was put in charge of the search team. He told the media that they had received nearly a half-dozen phone calls reporting the crash.

During the initial search, as emergency personnel were working to triangulate the location using the witness accounts, a pair of drones were launched from the field on Scotland Road to search Mirey Brook Swamp, which straddles the state line between New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Fire Mutual Aid then sent a call out to recruit 20 people to conduct a foot search of the area where the plane was suspected of crashing.

"We've been in contact with airports and they have no reports of missing aircraft or even any aircraft that has taken off," said Barry Kellom, Winchester fire chief.

At 6:45 p.m., when Kellom held a press conference with Fish and Game Warden Lt. Dave Walsh and Michael Todd, from the N.H. Department of Safety, it was still unknown where the plane had originated from or who the pilot was.

"It's in the hands of the [Federal Aviation Administration] and the [National Safety and Transportation Board] now," said Kellom.

At the time of the press conference, law enforcement personnel were securing the scene in advance of the arrival of investigators from the FAA and the NSTB.

Birch, Radder and Audette can be contacted at news@reformer.com


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