Pilot rescued from small plane crash in Dauphin County

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RUSH TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating what caused a small experimental airplane to crash shortly after take off in northern Dauphin County.

It happened at a small airport in Rush Township, around 9 o'clock Wednesday morning.

Crews soon rushed to the scene and airlifted the pilot to a nearby hospital.

The Bendigo Airport is a family operation. News of the crash of a small plane emblazoned with the name "Miss Nancy," captured the attention of the community.

The last incident on record of a small plane crash at Bendigo Airport occurred back in 1986.

Airport manager Gene Bendigo happened to catch this latest one on playback of the airport's surveillance video.

Bendigo said "it lifted off, and it just started going up, and then it turned like this. And he stalled it. It stalled, and it just turned and came in, just like on the left wing, hit first."

Registration on the experimental plane shows the FAA licensed the aircraft only six months ago, and that the plane belongs to Herbert Rose of Schuylkill County.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Brent Miller said "the 60-year-old male was lifelighted to Geisinger Medical Center where he's currently receiving treatment."

Bendigo described the building of the Pietenpol Air Camper as a labor of love for the man he calls 'Herbie.'

"I watched him sand every piece of wood, and put it together, and the landing gear, he did all the welding, he was an engineer so he knew what he was doing when he built it," Bendigo said.

"This was, I believe his second aircraft that he had built himself, so he did have some experience flying it," Miller said.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State Police explained an investigation will focus on whether it was a medical or mechanical incident that caused the crash.

"Three FAA investigators are in scene conducting their investigation as we speak, what they are doing in this process is collecting data which they will then turn over to the NTSB," Miller said.

The plane that Bendigo said took Rose five years to build was destroyed in minutes.

"Any landing you walk away from is a good landing, you know, even if it's messed up like that," Bendigo said.

Bendigo said Rose was alert when crews rescued him from the wreckage.

A spokesperson with Geisinger Medical Center in Danville said Rose was listed in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon.