EAST WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) – A 1930s biplane glided to a crash landing in the tops of a stand of trees on Sunday, stranding the pilot and his passenger amid the branches for several hours.

The single-engine de Havilland Tiger Moth apparently lost power about 200 feet from the runway after taking off from the airport just after 9:45 a.m., said Jim Peters of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane came to rest in the trees above 50 feet above the ground.

“I had to fly it into the trees,” pilot August Gorreck told reporters after being brought to the ground. “I had to fly it into the crash, so to speak, as far into the crash as I could, and we got away with it. We’re very grateful.”

Gorreck, and his passenger, Susan Williams, are members of a club, Tiger Moth Drivers LLC, which flies the biplane out of Springfield, Mass.

“When he ran out of airspace, he landed on top of a tree,” said Michael Koczera, manager of the Skylark Airpark. “We’re not talking about a big airplane. It’s a fabric (covered) plane, probably weighs about 1,000 pounds.”

An arborist joined the crew of a Coast Guard helicopter and members of several local fire departments, including a rope rescue team from Enfield to help rescuing the stranded aviators, officials said.

“The tree person was able to climb the tree and set up some kind of a pulley arrangement where they could remove the people by rope and tackle,” Koczera said.

It took rescuers about three hours to reach the stranded aviators and bring them down, because the trees were located in a swampy area, said James Burton, chief of the Warehouse Point fire department.

The plane was expected to remain in the trees until a crane can be brought in on Tuesday.


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