Botched backyard landing in Springhill

Christopher Gooding
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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.

Botched backyard landing

Mark Capon was at the controls of his personal aircraft and attempting to land on an airstrip he built on his property in Springhill Wednesday 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 Capon 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 Capon'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?"

Capon, who had no comment for the press, did describe the incident as a "hard landing."

Unscathed by the event, Capon 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.


Organizations: Transport Canada

Geographic location: SPRINGHILL, Church Street, Herrett Road Victoria Street Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2010 - 11:23

    I'm not from Springhill but this problem is pretty straightforward and could be fixed by a fifth grader. Do you have any of these on your town council??
    Use the logic from the commercials you see on TV ....gas $1.00/litre, coffee at Tim's $1.20, small planes landing inside your residential areas....brainless!!
    Anyone heard of wind shear!!

  • my3sons
    January 18, 2010 - 11:23

    Sorry to disappoint Whatajoke, but I am not the same author as Good Golly.

  • Bill
    January 18, 2010 - 11:18

    The reason for most of the proliferation of small aircraft and improvised runways is that the Federal Government privatized so many of the airports that they owned.

    The result was that the new airport commissions jacked up landing fees to the point that it put Flying Clubs out of business and aviators had to find another way to persue their hobby.

  • Whatajoke
    January 18, 2010 - 11:13

    Maybe people should be worried about the cars and trucks that weigh 15 to 20 times heavier zooming up the road or some 300 pound moron driving home drunk from the tavern on a Saturday night crashing through their houses. It is well known that there is one individual who has been harping on this situation (and making fools of themselves) since Capon started building his landing strip. This guy and his wife have been trying to put fear in people in the neighbourhood and it's felt that he has been in the background trying to throw roadblocks in the way to stop it. I'm sure he's happy now!! The facts are, no one really cares, except for a few fools, about the guy and his tiny plane and think that it's his land and he can do what he wants with it. Chances are that my3sons and goodgolly are one in the same as the selfserving citizen who have been trying to stop Capon and probably have their own Darwins. Looks to me from the picture and according to the article that the flimsy 300 pound Ultralight survived very well not to mention the pilot who bruised his ego. Big Crash!! What a joke!

  • amherstguy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:10

    Glad to hear that you were not hurt Mark. That is the most important thing.

    I guess these as*ses, wrting the above comments, forget that we have car accidents every day. Should we close all of the roads??

    Unfortunate accident and lucky Mark was not hurt. Move on folks. Give it up.

  • my3sons
    January 18, 2010 - 11:06

    amherstguyfromns - We are not as$*es, we are concerned parents, who don't believe the airstrip is a good or safe idea in a residential area. Sure there are roads, and people who drive on them do indeed have accidents, but that's not the point of all this. There are roads and tracks in place for trains and automobiles, but not for a freaking airplane, no matter how big it is.

  • Christopher
    January 18, 2010 - 11:00

    Thank goodness ya weren't hurt, Mark.

    Fuzzy Bear, what exactly is your point?

    Driving your automobile and drinking a small coffee from Tims is going to stop accidents from happening? Where does Tim Hortons enter the equation? Are you suggesting he fell asleep?

    What does that have to do with the council? Are you also suggesting a fifth grader would recommend driving while drinking coffee as a means to solve this problem? Unfortunately, fifth graders have little to no mind set into the safety and dangers of driving. Furthermore, fifth graders don't drink coffee.

    Back to the council; I'm going to put a direct quote from this article. Ready? You're sure?
    Town officials state they have no say over the airstrip and Transport Canada had no official comment on the airstrips status.

    So town officials have no say over it. The town council would qualify as town officials I believe, so sorry bud but fifthgraders on the council wouldn't solve this problem at all. You can try all you like to get your children on the council but they still would have no say (there it is again) in the air strip matter.

    Coffee is for adults, and the comments section is reserved for adults too.

  • ex Springhiller
    January 18, 2010 - 10:57

    Mark being a perent and the landing field in his back yard. Don't you think that a husband and a father would have more concern about his family. Instaed he is only thinking about himself and his childhood dreams.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2010 - 10:53

    Ok...thanks Chris sorry for my oversight! One thing I had missed was it's so incredible and fortunate that the pilot wasn't hurt...thank God!!
    My point your joking right??? Read the first sentence and go no further!! Your underestimating the intelligence of fifth graders. Now if you can't understand that I can't help ya!
    Council does have a say and flipping the problem back to Transport Canada -aka T/C- is a cop out! They need to take immediate action by pressuring T/C to make an immediate decision for the safety and welfare of local springhillers. Actually I'm no expert but by the looks of the plane it may be some time before it's in the air again. However them doing nothing is not an action plan for a situtation such as this.

  • sigh
    January 18, 2010 - 10:53

    The plane landed less than 100 yards from a house with 3 small children. A landing strip in town limits...really?!?! By the way...people were complaining before this happened but it is very new so nothing had been one listened to the people complaining. You can't compare it to the dangers of the roads, its like placing a 4 lane highway in front of an elementary school.

  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:52

    Will someone stop the madness? When will someone from some Gov't Agency responsible for something like this step in and stop the proliferation of planes flying around cumberland county. I mean its out of control, something must be done. That plane looks smaller than a smart 4 2, its small enough to fly through the doors of wal-mart in amherst and take out some false teeth in the Pharmacy Dept.

    I'm assuming no one would care about this whole airstrip blah blah if the guy didn't miss the run way. For the sake of the children though please stop the madness.

  • around
    January 18, 2010 - 10:51

    they took my comment off so i guess i was right lolol

  • Joke What
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    Whatajoke - I couldn't help but notice the house behind the plane...if Mark killed someone or struck that house or the one on the otherside of it we'd be having a much different conversation. Where's the buffer zone and due diligence to prevent public harm? I can assure you, and I live in Springhill, if my neighbor pulled a boneheaded stunt like this out of arrogance and self-confidence I would be the first to give him a crack in the jaw and tell him I ttold you so.
    Sure its neat he can fly a plane but few cars have to worry about what happensif they come across vehicular error...the car rolls to a stop. Planes drop. Fast. Whens the last time an automobile driver had to know what to do when the gyro vacuum fails, correct GS and TSS functions, determine how many degrees their VOR is off, etc. Flight is a priviledge and as such the pilot should drop the bravado and admit, flying into that neighborhood is a bad idea in case anything goes wrong. This is not the year 2200 were everyone has a self-automated hovercraft and few, like yourself, understand the risk of personal-craft flight ( and the joy it brings). Flying is amazing. This airstrip is a bad idea. That s why you will not find personal airstrips in residential areas. Use you head, Whatajoke. It sounds like you're a friend of the pilots but this is a big mistake. You know there is a saying: there's a time and place for everything. This isn't one of them and it is not right.

  • my3sons
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    Well, I am glad that he was not hurt. I am not happy however, about this air strip in my backyard. I don't believe it's safe. I no longer allow my children to cut through the field behind us as I am worried about them getting hit. I find it hard to believe the town can't do anything about the building of an airstrip in a residential area.

  • snow
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    I can understand an airstrip in Springhill, especially since the prison employees drive through Springhill like they own it anyway.

  • Countrygal
    January 18, 2010 - 10:40

    I am amazed that this dude was allowed to build a landing strip in his neighbourhood. Is there no law against this. It's great he wants to fly but think about the rest of the community and fly safe. Build the landing strip out of town. BTW I am NOT from Springhill or surrounding areas so I don't know anybody involved in any of this. I'm just trying to think using common sense

  • Bill
    January 18, 2010 - 10:35

    A antenna tower at both ends of the landing field would definately discourage low level flying.

  • Good Golly
    January 18, 2010 - 10:34

    Lucky break. I'm glad he didn't knock over a swing set or crush someone's cat.
    Are you serious. A landing strip in town limits?
    This sounds like an accute case of douchebaggery. I assume he told his neighbors he was an excellent pilot and the chances of him crashing his plane so close to their children was slim to none.
    I'm nominating this guy for a Darwin Award.

    January 18, 2010 - 10:29

    amherstguy from nova scotia first thing first you are right thank god Mark was not hurt........thank God no one was hurt and there is that possiblity that someone or some child could have been hurt or homes damaged lets not forget the plane is in someone elses yard. If Marks plane had of turned the other side there is that possiblity that a child playing in their back field could have been seriously injured. It is easier said to move on but you have an air strip next to your house and see how accomidating you are. As for accidents on the roads, your right we do have accidents and a big % of those are by stupid people making stupid decisions. I let my kids play in the back yard away from the roads because the only thing I need to worry about are feet runnig thru my garden not a plane falling or sliding into my children thou the road does sit some 50 feet away from most homes unlike this landing strip. I mean lets face it the best of the best have accidents and being that close to homes and telephone poles, wiring etc. Can the town not asked for some sort of injunction as to not allow the plane to take off or land on that strip until the AVIATION steps in and gives a ruling.