NEW CARROLLTON, Md. — One person is dead after a plane crashed into a home in Prince George's County Sunday afternoon. Officials on scene said the pilot of the plane died in the crash.
The pilot has been identified as Dr. Gordon Allen, 61, of Bronx, New York. He was an optometrist in the New York area, and had been a licensed private pilot since 2011.
The plane crashed into a home in the 6300 block of Chestnut Avenue in New Carrollton, Maryland. Allen was the only person in the plane.
Initial reports of a small engine plane crashing into a carport in the back of a home came in around 3 p.m. The plane exploded upon impact. There was no one in the house at the time of the crash, but the residents have were asked to stay away from the house until the scene is declared safe. The crash caused a car to be pushed into another house across the street.
FlightAware data indicates that a Grumman Cheetah plane took off from College Park Airport, two miles away from the crash site, at 2:45 p.m. on a flight plan to Westchester, NY. According to radar, the plane took a steep nose dive,making an 1,100-foot drop in 20 seconds. Visibility was two-and-a-half miles at the time of the crash; the poor visibility was attributed to weather conditions in the area.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash, which could take months, but investigators made a key finding using radar tracking from Air Traffic Control. Three minutes into the flight, the plane reached an altitude of 1,800 feet when it began a descending right turn that continued until the plane hit the home.
Pilot, and WUSA9 transportation reporter, Pete Muntean said that NTSB investigators will "no doubt look into whether the plane entered a graveyard spiral." The term, made famous after the crash of John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1999, is used to describe a dangerous spiral dive happening after a pilot loses orientation when trusting ear cues over what plane instruments say, which often happens in poor weather conditions.
Investigators have not indicated that this is what happened in this crash, but they have said that the plane's flight controls were working.
Mayra Perla was in the area when the crash happened.
"We looked at the sky and there was the airplane out of control, and it was going to hit," Perla said. "We didn't know where the airplane was going to crash. We didn't do anything we just panicked."
Perla's family was inside their home when they heard an explosion and felt the house shake.
"It was so hard, and I thought it was going to make every house explode," she said.
There are no additional reports of injuries at this time. Maryland State Police said at least 18 homes lost power in the area as a result of the crash.
Fire officials said they knocked down a fire in a two story split level home as a result of the crash. HAZMAT officials were standing by for fuel runoff.
The plane was a single-engine Grumman Cheetah.