No injuries were reported after a Piper airplane reportedly was blown off the runway Monday, May 17, at the Piney Pinecreek Border Airport on the U.S.-Canada border in Roseau County, Minn.
According to airport manager Mark Elton, the crash happened mid-afternoon during a "touch-and-go," when the pilots landed the plane and immediately took off again, common among people working to obtain their pilot license.
"I talked to the guys that were in the plane. They said that they had touched down the wind gust came from the side of them and pretty much pushed them right off the runway," Elton said. "They ended up with the plane out right on the edge of the field next to the airport."
The crash took the landing gear off the plane, but the plane did not flip and landed on its belly. Elton said the two American passengers were uninjured, and were picked up from the area a short time later.
The damaged plane remained at the airport as of Tuesday morning, May 18, and the owner of the plane had not yet done a damage assessment. According to registration records, the plane is owned by Miller Aircraft Services Inc. in Crookston.
According to the National Weather Service, southwest winds in Roseau County around the time of the crash were reaching speeds between 10 and 15 mph, conditions Grand Forks forecaster Nathan Rick characterized as "breezy." But with strong enough gusts, he said that could be enough to blow the small plane off the runway.
"It could certainly cause some issues," Rick said.
Elton said that more than anything, the crash was just unlucky.
"We've had a few where they've had plane malfunctions or different things that failed right after takeoff so you had to put the plane down in the field around here, but in my lifetime there's only been one other time I can think of that that's happened," he said. "So it's very rare that this happens."