Pilot uninjured after emergency landing

Crews from Apollo Northeast of Johnstown pick up a plane that was involved in an emergency landing at Fulton County Airport on Tuesday. (Photos courtesy of Apollo Northeast)

JOHNSTOWN — A Vermont pilot of a small-single engine Cessna was uninjured when he had to make an emergency landing Tuesday morning at the Fulton County Airport after his aircraft filled up with smoke.

The name of the pilot, Sergey Goncharov, 30, of Burlington, Vt. was released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department early this morning. He was the sole occupant of the plane.

According to the tail number of the plane, which was N4629K, it is a Cessna fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft whose reciprocating engine was manufactured by Continental Motor on April 5, 1979. It was legally being flown. The registered owner is Beta Air LLC of South Burlington, Vt.

Goncharov is listed on the Beta Air website as being a Certfied Flight Instructor, Certfied Flight Instructor Instrument as well as an airframe and powerplant mechanic. According to the Beta Air website, he has a background in aircraft engine manufacturing and holds multiple roles as a process engineer, assembly and test technician.

The National Traffic Safety Board is continuing to investigate the crash.

“The guy’s very lucky,” Sheriff Richard Giardino said today. “He did a great job landing.”

The emergency landing of the airplane occurred just after 8 a.m. Tuesday to the Fulton County Airport off Route 67 in the town of Johnstown. But minutes earlier, the pilot knew he was in trouble.

“He was diverted to our airport because his cabin was full of smoke,” Giardino said.

The sheriff said the pilot first encountered the smokey situation about 8,000 feet up. He said the pilot opened a window but still couldn’t see, including a view of his instrument panel.

According to a news release issued by the sheriff’s office, the preliminary investigation by the NTSB indicates mechanical and electrical issues downed the aircraft. Officials said an indication is that the pilot followed all the appropriate protocols.

The release said he initially was diverted to another airport, then when the cabin filled with smoke he was diverted to the Fulton County Airport. Upon landing, it appears there was an additional failure with the landing gear, according to preliminary data.

Several emergency vehicles arrived to the east end of the runway. The aircraft appeared mostly intact. A tow truck could be seen Tuesday taking the aircraft from the scene.

Giardino said his office continues to work with the NTSB, which sent two representatives to the scene. He said the aircraft was most likely taken to the NTSB station in Albany.

The release said the NTSB will issue a final report in the future. Such reports are usually several months in the making.

The airport will be closed until the investigation is complete, the runway is cleared, and the Federal Aviation Administration authorizes the reopening

County Emergency Management Services Director Steven Santa Maria and fire department personnel were are on scene with the sheriff’s office.

By Paul Wager