Pilot Jay Castle, 77, of Briarcliff Manor, is safe and unharmed after making an emergency landing in Dutchess County yesterday afternoon.
According to a statement from the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, a 911 call was received at approximately 1:20 p.m. Saturday in response to an airplane down in a field adjacent to Route 9 in the Village of Rhinebeck.
"It was intentionally landed there in a controlled manner and did not crash," the statement said.
Castle told investigators he had taken off in his 1947 Aeronca 11AC, a two-seater, from the Columbia County airport and was en route to Slate Hill, NY, when he realized he was having engine trouble.
"I turned the plane around," he explained, hoping to reach the Kingston Airport in Ulster County, but realized he couldn't make it. "So, I chose a field and landed."
Castle was the sole occupant of the airplane and was uninjured during the landing.
The plane also did not sustain any damage, though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was notified to make a routine investigation into the incident.
"It was very routine. Nobody got hurt," said Castle. "They filed a report."
There was no minimal damage to the landing area, also, said Castle. He said the property owner was on the scene, along with first responders and the FAA representative after the landing.
"Everybody was very, very helpful," he said. "They took me to a diner while we were waiting for the FAA."
Castle's wife, Sue, said as of Sunday afternoon, some of his friends had assisted in taking apart the plane, including the wings, and were taking them back to Middletown via truck.
Castle explained he had participated in a "fly in" in Ghent prior to making the trip, a gathering of fellow aviation enthusiasts, especially those who enjoy flying vintage plane.
He then stopped in Columbia County for fuel before heading back to Slate Hill, where he houses the plane.
The 40-year resident of Briarcliff Manor said he initially received his pilot license in 1955 when he got out of the army, but abandoned the passion when there were no aviation jobs available.
Then, about five years ago, the FAA introduced a sport pilot option, which can be used for pilots who fly during the daylight in small planes at moderate speeds.
"I chose to fly under that rule," explained Castle, who purchased the 1947 model at the time.
Though Sue occasionally accompanies him on his trips, she said she is glad she wasn't with him yesterday, as she would have panicked, as well as added extra weight to the older plane.
Castle added there was no damage to the plane other than the faulty engine which caused him to prematurely land and some dirt on the body.
Village of Rhinebeck police, fire and Dutchess County paramedic units also responded to the scene.
No criminal involvement is suspected at this time, according to the Sheriff's office.
Castle said he tries to fly around one to two times a week and isn't phased by yesterday's fluke.
"It's usually just fly around or go to lunch," he said. "The fly is really beautiful up by Middleton...especially in the fall."