A small plane crashed into some trees near a New Jersey airport and caught fire Tuesday, federal authorities say.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman says the plane was headed to Central Jersey Regional Airport in Hillsborough Township when it collided with trees off airport property shortly after 12 p.m. The pilot said that he had engine problems and had to go down before reaching the airport, landing in some trees just south of the Manville Causeway.
After the plane crashed, the pilot called police on his cellphone to let them know that he was unharmed but stuck in the plane more than 70 feet in the air. He remained in the cockpit for hours as officials figured out how to get him down safely, as the plane was leaking fuel.
Thankfully, a tree removal company volunteered to use one of their lift trucks to retrieve the pilot, a 33-year-old man from Somerset County, and bring him down without incident. However, the plane was going to remain in the trees until Wednesday morning, police said.
The pilot was taken to the hospital for observation, and did not have any serious injuries.
The prosecutor's office said a preliminary investigation indicates that the engine stalled while the pilot was trying to land.
Emergency correspondence indicated there was a fuel leak — and that the plane was stuck at least 70 feet in the air. Chopper footage shows the small plane stuck in thick woods nearly two hours after the initial crash was reported.
The FAA said it is investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine a probable cause of the accident.