Rescuers pluck pilot from tree in Springfield Ultralight aircraft crashed early Sunday; pilot uninjured

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Responders work to secure the aircraft and prepare to rescue the pilot. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Firefighters from several area towns responded to the woods near the Springfield Dam this morning as an ultralight aircraft that was taking off from Hartness State Airport went down and ended stuck about 40 feet up a tree.

The call came in at 10:27 a.m. on Sunday as other pilots flying in the area spotted the wreckage supported upright in the tree canopy. The Springfield Fire Department responded, finding the single-person aircraft and pilot unable to get down from the tree. The West Weathersfield Fire Department and technical rescue crews from Hartford, Hanover and Lebanon were called in to secure the aircraft so it would not fall from the tree and to arrange to bring the uninjured pilot down. WCAX-TV reported that he is Dr. Mark Jacob of Rutland.

Responders called on Green Mountain Power for its all terrain bucket vehicle, but first had to cut a makeshift road about a half mile through the woods to get equipment up to the scene. An excavator from JJ Enterprises. just down the road from the wreckage, and firefighters wielding chainsaws cleared the way. But when the GMP ATV arrived late in the afternoon it threw a track, disabling it.

Pilot Mark Jacob waits for preparations to bring him down are complete

A crew set to work to remount the track while, up on the hill, rescuers reported a “significant shift” in the tree, sparking concern among that the aircraft and pilot could drop.

But a rescuer in a tree next to the aircraft worked on the rigging that would keep the ultralight and Dr. Jacob from falling. All the while, everyone in the woods was fending off every sort of stinging and biting insect.

Just after 5 p.m., as the GMP tracked bucket vehicle finally headed up the hill, Springfield Fire requested the Police Department’s lighting rig and generator to be brought to the staging area in case the job went past dark. Fortunately, by 5:35 p.m.,  rescuers had brought Jacob down. Shortly thereafter, crews had cleared the woods and responders were being released.

With its track remounted, the GMP all terrain bucket truck is ready to go

Springfield Police, Springfield Ambulance, Golden Cross Ambulance, Vermont State Police and the Army Corps of Engineers assisted in the effort.

“It was amazing the way that all these organizations came together,” said Capt. John Claflin of the Springfield Fire Department., “It was great.”

 

 

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