A small plane with two people on board was hanging approximately 100 feet above the ground Sunday night after the aircraft struck a high-voltage transmission line outside of Gaithersburg, Maryland, authorities said.
A small plane with two people on board was hanging approximately 100 feet above the ground Sunday night after the plane struck a pylon supporting high-voltage power lines.
The two were not injured and were communicating with first responders as they awaited rescue, the Maryland State Police said in a statement.
Speaking at a news conference, officials said rescuing the two will be difficult because the power line must be tested in person to make sure it doesn’t harm first responders or the two on board the plane.
“There’s no other way to determine if the tower is safe to access until it’s grounded or bonded, which means crews have to climb up the wires themselves to put clamps or wires on the wires and then make sure they’re safe.” there’s no static electricity, there’s no residual power,” Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said at the news conference.
No estimated rescue time was given, but the chief was hopeful with the arrival of specialized teams that deal with the transmission equipment, as well as the expected response of more rescuers.
The Mooney M20J single-engine plane was reported about four miles northwest of the Montgomery County Air Park around 5:40 p.m., according to troops and the Federal Aviation Administration. The area is home to the Montgomery Village community.
“Arriving soldiers found the aircraft suspended in the air, entangled in a power line pylon,” state police said in the statement.
They identified the pilot as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, DC, and the passenger as Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana. The plane had departed from the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, the FAA said in a statement.
Officials said about 120,000 utility customers in the area were without power. Pepco, the Potomac Electric Power Company, said in a statement that its crews responded to the crash site and are working with authorities to expedite rescue and restore power.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating what caused the plane to go down.
The intersection below the plane, Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road, was closed as the rescue operation continued Sunday night.
lindsey pipia, Michelle Acevedo, Caryn Littler Y jay blackman contributed.