Plane crash claims 2 lives

Single-engine aircraft goes down in forest near Catamount

COPAKE–Two people died in the crash of a small plane on Mount Fray in the Taconic Mountain range near the Catamount Ski Area the night of November 10.

The dead are the pilot and plane owner John Welsh, 64, of Concord, N.H., and his passenger, Margaret “Peggy” Noonan, 63, of West Stockbridge, Mass., according to a press release from Columbia County Sheriff David W. Harrison, Jr.

The plane, a single-engine, four-seat Mooney, was en route from Pennsylvania to Great Barrington. It appears that the plane initially struck the treetops at an elevation of about 2,000 feet causing it to crash. Both the pilot and passenger were killed on impact.

Investigator Bob Gretz from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the plane went down at about 7:50 p.m. as it was on approach to the Great Barrington Airport.

The last radio communication from the plane was with the Albany International Airport shortly before that time. The contact was routine and no distress call was ever received. An NTSB report about what caused the crash could take up to a year to complete.

A hunter from Massachusetts discovered the charred wreckage of the plane crash late the morning of Friday, November 12 in a mountainous, forested area about 100 feet from the Massachusetts border. At first officials believed only one body was inside. Investigators working to uncover clues at the mountainside crash site found the body of a second crash victim in the wreckage, Saturday, November 13. The small aircraft was upside down, burned and broken into pieces.

The crash scene is on Taconic State Park property in a hard-to-access area, and investigators rode all-terrain-vehicles to get there and then used machetes and chainsaws to clear a path to the wreckage.

Autopsies were to be performed on the crash victims at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany November 14.

According to a news website, Ms. Noonan’s parents, “retired TWA executive William Noonan and his wife, Virginia, an aviation pioneer who was one of the first flight attendants on Trans Atlantic Airlines, were killed in a March 14, 1980, Polish Airlines crash in Warsaw that took 87 lives, including 22 members of the U.S. boxing team.”

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Catamount crash along with Coroner George Davis, the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Assisting at the scene were state park police and Catamount Ski Area management and employees.

To contact Diane Valden email

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