SPRINGHILL - The pilot of a small engine airplane walked away shaken but uninjured yesterday morning after what he described as a "hard landing" in town limits.
Mark Capone was at the controls of his personal aircraft and attempting to land on an airstrip he built on his property in Springhill Wed. morning when the aircraft veered off course and came to a stop in some nearby bushes. Citizens near the area witnessed the plane entering town limits from the Southwest, heading over the Herrett Road during its decent and flying what some described as precariously low, as it came in for a landing.
"It was just clipping over the tree tops," said one witness.
Neighbours in the area are concerned about the airstrip being near homes and yesterday's mishap didn't do much to assuage their concerns. A small crowd of onlookers and neighbours gathered near the plane while the pilot was taking a breather in his nearby Church Street home. The landing, some indicated, was the first attempt Capone made since developing the airstrip over the summer. Its construction has been a hotly debated issue but one the Town of Springhill hasn't any say in.
"We never heard one way or another what the status of the strip was," Deputy Mayor Doug Dobson said shortly after reviewing the scene. "It's up to aviation to decide if it's allowed."
Without bylaws to the contrary, town hall was not involved in approving the landing strip, which would tentatively see aircraft flying between two Victoria Street homes and quite possibly over a third on take off. Repeated calls of concern, however, were received by town hall and even more yesterday after the botched landing.
Steve Bone, Communications Officer with Transport Canada, did not offer any details when asked if the airstrip in question received Transport Canada's approval prior to its use nor answered questions regarding what considerations and stipulations are expected by the government for airstrips near residential areas.
Neighbours in the area were hesitant to speak on the record against Capone's airstrip but one neighbour, speaking under the condition of anonymity, wasn't surprised everyone's worse fears occurred during the suspected inaugural use of the airstrip.
"I thought it was a possibility," she said. "I didn't see it happen but I heard it. It was a big crash. I was surprised. What if he hit someone's home?"
Capone, who had no comment for the press, did describe the incident as a "hard landing."
Unscathed by the event, Capone was in his Church Street home as onlookers from the community drove to the Victoria Street side of the air strip to look over the damage that morning. Clearly of its mark, the landing equipment on the plane was broke but otherwise the plane was in fair condition.
The plane was later reported disassembled and removed from the scene.