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DV Pilot police & fire

Pilot critical in “fireball” crash outside Teterboro

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

The pilots of a plane that crashed on Route 46 aborted a landing at the last minute but couldn’t get the craft high enough off the ground to give it another shot, authorities said.  Heading northeast into Teterboro Airport from the southeast, the pilots of the 1999 “Super Baron” either tried to “power up and go around” again after missing the runway or simply “overshot it completely,” Jim Peters of the Federal Aviation Administration told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM.

The plane “clipped some trees and went out of the airport across Route 46,” Peters said. It crashed into a tree and exploded into a fireball, landing in a parking lot barely a quarter of a mile from where a similar incident occured four years ago. The pilots crawled out and sat on a nearby curb awaiting help. Both are at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where one is listed in critical condition.

“I saw a lot of pieces sticking up, maybe the tail, and a lot of police activity,” said resident Leslie Schur Gottlieb, who drove by this morning. “Amazing no one was killed and a good thing the crash happened early in the A.M.”

Plane landed here

Firefighters later picked debris from a tree struck by the plane, owned by Quest Diagnostics, which was making its final stop of the evening at the company’s testing lab in Teterboro.

The Beech Baron, equipped with super-charged engines, left Pottstown, Pa., under visual flight rules, which means the pilots weren’t in constant contact with a controller, Peters said.

It originally left Reading around 10:45 last night, then stopped twice in New England and back in Pennsylvania before heading the 150 or so miles to Bergen County.

“The weather was good last night,” Peters said.

“Air traffic controllers at Teterboro cleared the aircraft for a visual approach from the southeast going northwest on Runway 1.”

That’s when something went wrong, he said.

In the end, Peters said, “it took the same path” as the private jet that crashed through a fence and barreled across the highway before smashing into a warehouse four years ago.

Both pilots, George Maddox, 54, and Sanil Gopinath, 42, suffered severe burns. Maddox is listed in critical condition and Gopinath’s condition is listed as serious, a hospital official said.

The FAA gave over the investigation to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is interviewing the first two people on the scene: a bartender and a firefighter who reported seeing both victims suffering from severe burns.

The crash follows the mid-air collision over the Hudson River earlier this month of a small plane and helicopter, killing all nine aboard.

Although tiny, Teterboro is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country, thanks in part to its proximity to Manhattan and upper Bergen County. It’s been hosting bigger and bigger private jets for corporate customers and celebrity types who’d prefer to avoid flying commercially into JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports.


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