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Close call ahead of airport fundraiser in Columbia County

The airport president says a pilot was injured but expected to be okay.

BENTON, Pa. — The soggy runway at the Benton Airport wasn't ideal for its Annual Fly-In event in Columbia County.

"We raised a couple of pigs. We have it butchered and smoked for 'em," explained Airport President Bob Brewington. "And then we serve 600-700 meals during this fly-in, and hopefully, if the weather would have been better, you'd have seen 150 planes."

Brewington said it started with a close call for one pilot.

"They took off, and they must have had some engine trouble and tried to turn back and it just ran out of power. So, it's just, once you lose. Lift your planes coming down. So he wasn't going fast enough, and it just came down," added Brewington.

Brewington tells Newswatch 16 the pilot was conscious and speaking before he was taken to the hospital in a helicopter with leg injuries. The Federal Aviation Authority is looking into the official cause of the crash.

"Thank God, that's all it was, you know, in this case, lost the aircraft that's always sad and expensive, but I hope it's a good turnout for 'em," said Vince Castellano of Berwick.

The plane was cleaned up and then it was time for the event, but neither the crash nor the rain was enough to keep people from coming out to support.

"Oh, we come every year," said Donna Reed. "We were camping at Wellsboro and came for two hours about 110 miles just for this meal. It's that good. Oh, pork is wonderful. And they have the red potatoes boiled potatoes and all the homemade desserts and just everything's wonderful."

This event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, and attendees say they're happy it made a comeback.

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