FAA investigates Suffolk plane crash

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A single-engine airplane that crashed during an emergency landing along Deer Forest Road on Monday afternoon had been hangared at the Suffolk Airport and was out for a “leisure tour,” according to police.

James William Beauchamp, 68, of Corapeake, N.C., was piloting the airplane when it began to experience mechanical troubles, said Sgt. Michelle Cotton, a spokesperson for the Virginia State Police.

Beauchamp received minor injuries to his hand and back when the airplane was unable to negotiate a turn in the road after landing and then caught one wing on a tree and spun into the edge of the woods alongside the two-lane blacktop.

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Two passengers in the craft escaped without injuries.

Witnesses described the airplane circling over a nearby farm in an apparent search for a suitable landing spot after it experienced mechanical difficulties.

One person on the scene said the pilot told him that he had lost engine power and had to find a place to set the plane down.

The Mooney M20F was severely damaged in the accident and was later removed from the roadside by a flatbed wrecker, Cotton said.

The Virginia State Police are investigating the crash, along with the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials from the FAA did not return calls about the crash on Tuesday.

While unusual, plane crashes are not unheard of in Suffolk. City spokesperson Debbie George said Tuesday that there had been another “hard landing” by a small aircraft last year.