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Pilot killed after small cargo plane crashes in Burlington

Posted January 16, 2013

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— The pilot of a small cargo plane died early Wednesday after the plane crashed into a softball field at a park near the intersection of Sharpe Road and Melrose Drive in Burlington, police said. 

The crash happened about 6 a.m. after the plane took off from Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport bound for New Jersey, police said. Witnesses told police that it appeared that the pilot, 57-year-old David Gamble of Greensboro, attempted to avoid residential areas prior to crashing into an area near North Park Community Center. 

Gamble had no other passengers on board, and no other injuries were reported, police said. 

Delores Burrell, who witnessed the crash, said she heard the plane as it was descending toward the field and heard the sound it make when it crashed. 

"(It was) the loudest noise ever, and fire lit up the whole area – just a big blaze of fire," she said. "By that time, I had grabbed my coat and woke up my granddaughter up to go across the street to see what it was."

The plane, which was a Pilatus single-engine turbo prop, belonged to LabCorp, a medical testing company based in Burlington. Gamble was transporting interoffice mail from Burlington to an airport in Morristown, N.J., police said. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been contacted and will conduct the investigation of the crash, police said.

Police said they were concerned that the crash could have spread as much as 400 gallons of jet fuel near the park.

Investigators said it appeared that Gamble tried to avoid the neighborhood right across the street from the open field.

"I think that was really awesome if that was his thought to go over there rather than, you know, just trying to come down right over houses," Burrell said. "Thank God. We were blessed. We were really blessed."

"It could have been much more damage. More people could have gotten killed beside the pilot if it had fallen in the neighborhood," said Willie Cameron, who lives near the crash site.

8 Comments

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  • NC_Beach_n_Mtn_guy Jan 16, 4:57 p.m.

    RIP Dave...

  • ncpilot2 Jan 16, 1:31 p.m.

    AtaLost, I would encourage you to learn a bit more about airplanes before concluding that single-engine aircraft are unsafe. In many cases, multi-engine aircraft do not do well when they lose one engine. Plus, eyewitnesses are almost always known to describe aircraft accidents with a low degree of accuracy. Over 85 percent of all aircraft accidents are do to a mistake by the pilot, not the presence or absence of an extra engine. Despite these facts, it is very sad to lose this member of the aviation family.

  • quit_whining Jan 16, 12:00 p.m.

    Do a little research...it was a Pilatus PC-12...that aircraft is not your father's Cessna 152!!!

  • AtALost Jan 16, 10:14 a.m.

    A single engine plane sounds like a bad idea. Despite what people say, eyewitness accounts usually mention a nose dive - not gliding safely to the ground.

  • beach2011 Jan 16, 10:00 a.m.

    So sad! PRaying for his family.

  • piloterror1 Jan 16, 9:20 a.m.

    thats no "small" plane.

  • Bartmeister Jan 16, 8:56 a.m.

    Can you imagine sitting in your car and a plane crashes in front of you? Talk about things you'd never expect.

  • greymomma Jan 16, 8:17 a.m.

    Lots more info http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=8956143
    and
    http://www.digtriad.com/news/article/263776/57/Pilot-Killed-In-Burlington-Plane-Crash