A small plane carrying a father and his young son on a sightseeing tour apparently lost power shortly after takeoff and crash-landed on its belly Thursday afternoon in a parking lot at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, officials said.
The passengers did not require medical attention, but the pilot, identified as Anastasiia Goldowsky, 31, suffered minor injuries, according to NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer. She was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where she was treated and released Thursday evening.
The Piper PA-28 aircraft took off shortly before 3 p.m. and reached an altitude of between 200 and 300 feet before it apparently lost power and turned east, Hartmayer said. The fixed wing, single-engine plane is registered to Prior Aviation, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
The plane touched down in a grassy area and skidded across Luiz F. Kahl Way, the airport’s circular roadway, and across a small berm before coming to rest in the west end of the preferred parking lot.
The passengers were identified as Bing Shen, 39, and his 6-year-old son, Qiain. They were on a tourist flight to see the area, including Niagara Falls.
“It was supposed to be a nice trip for a dad and his son,” Hartmayer said. “It didn’t end up that way, unfortunately.”
He credited the pilot, a certified flight instructor, for actions “above and beyond the call” to land the plane safely and avert serious injuries or property damage.
Hartmayer noted the incident could have been more serious had the plane landed on the circular roadway or nearby Genesee Street. Instead, Goldowsky was able to steer into the parking lot, which was empty due to the midsummer lull in travelers, Hartmayer said.
“If it might have been Easter break or during the winter, and that west end is much more populated with vehicles, it could have been different situation,” he said.
The initial call from the air traffic control tower to the airport’s fire/rescue squad was that a plane had crashed into the terminal, Hartmayer noted during the late-afternoon news conference.
An “alert 3,” indicating that an aircraft has crashed, was issued, and fire and police agencies converged on the scene in minutes. While alerts at the aiport are rare, an “alert 2,” indicating an aircraft in distress, was issued earlier Thursday when the landing gear on a US Airways flight from Buffalo to Philadelphia failed to retract and the aircraft had to return, he said.
“Those things do happen from time to time,” he said. “Not with any great regularity when you consider how many flights we have departing and arriving out of the airport. It’s an anomoly.”
At no point were flights into or out of the airport disrupted by the small plane’s emergency landing, he said. The FAA is investigating.